Regulations on chemicals are, in general, based on assessments of single substances. Given that, in reality, humans are exposed to complex mixtures – the so-called ‘cocktail effect’ – a question arises as to whether such regulations are adequately health-protective. This issue is addressed in a technical report from ECETOC, focussed specifically on studies of mixtures containing each component at, or below, its no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) (such levels are often used to calculate existing regulatory safety margins). Following a review of the available literature, the chemical components of roughly 5% of the 139 mixtures tested were said to demonstrate convincing evidence of synergistic interactions. From these results, default assumptions of dose addition for chemicals with a similar mode of action, and response addition for dissimilarly acting chemicals, were considered reasonable. ECETOC concluded that its evaluation did not suggest that the ‘cocktail effect’ poses a risk to human health if each chemical component is well regulated according to established risk assessment approaches.

European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals. Effects of chemical co-exposures at doses relevant for human safety assessments. Technical Report No. 115. 26 July 2012.,cntnt01,details,0&cntnt01by_category=22&cntnt01order_by=date%20Desc&cntnt01template=display_list_v2&cntnt01display_template=display_details_v2&cntnt01document_id=6370&cntnt01returnid=59


The above item was taken from the September 2012 issue of Toxicology and Regulatory News which is sent automatically to members of bibra (click here for more details).

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