Progress report on New or Emerging Risks of Chemicals (NERCs)


Despite existing legislation to prevent or manage the risks of chemical substances, chemical risks continue to emerge on the short or long term. On the one hand, these risks can be the result of new substances, new applications, technological developments or process innovations. On the other hand adverse effects not recognized before might arise from the long-term use of existing substances. Therefore, a project coordinated by RIVM Bureau REACH and financed by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour and the Ministry of Welfare and Sport was initiated in 2012 advocating the development of a system to identify New or Emerging Risks of Chemicals (NERCs) at an earliest stage. The project aims to link (new) information on chemical stressors to effects for three protection goals - workers, consumers and the environment- with the purpose to better protect man and the environment. This report summarizes the progress of work and results of the project presenting the methodologies in finding and prioritizing NERCs for each protection goal, and suggesting measures in order to reduce exposure of the selected NERCs in the nearby future. In addition to similarities in the methodologies for the identification of NERCs, the complexity and route of exposure of NERCs also resulted in differences in approaches for the three protection goals. The common features are using various sources (e.g. scientific literature, news sites, websites, electronic databases, stakeholder networks) for searching information and the evaluation of information involving international networks of experts to assess the causality between the chemical exposure and the effect. The next and future steps in the identification of NERCs is to develop a stepwise comprehensive strategy including follow-up measures, where needed, to manage, restrict or reduce the exposure of such compounds.

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