Chemicals risk assessment under the EU chemicals legislation REACH consists of three components:
– hazard identification and characterisation, exposure assessment, followed by the risk assessment (characterisation).
You must know about the chemicals, mixtures and articles/goods that you are dealing with so that you in turn can inform users about the possible risks when they are being used. When assessing a chemical product it is necessary to be aware of the clear difference between the terms “hazard” and “risk”.
When assessing the “hazard” posed by a chemical, it is the intrinsic properties that are to be checked. Acute toxicity, corrosive properties the ability to bring about allergies and reluctance to break down in the ground or water are examples of intrinsic properties that can be hazardous to health or the environment.
Risk characterisation, is the process whereby you balance the information on the hazards of substances with the information on the exposure to the substances (for humans and the environment and, where relevant, for physical and chemical properties).
For effects with a toxicological threshold (derived no effect levels (DNELs) or predicted no effect concentration (PNECs)), you need to compare the quantitative exposure estimates with the thresholds. In practice, this is done by dividing the exposure level (or concentration) by the effect level (or concentration). This leads to the ‘risk characterisation ratio’ (RCR). You need to ensure that, for each relevant use and separate assessment, each RCR is below 1, i.e. the level of exposure is lower than the threshold level.
If an RCR is close to, or above 1, you need to iterate your assessment: either by refining the information on the substance’s properties or by amending the recommended operational conditions and/or risk management measures.
- REACH „Chemicals Risk Assessment“ overview
- Hazard assessment
- Exposure assessment
- Risk characterisation (DNEL, PNEC…)
- Data sharing / availability
Who should attend
Anyone with a responsibility for and/or interest in placing chemicals on EU market.
PaedDr. Martin Murin, REACH expert