Woutersen M, Smit K, ter Burg W, Bokkers B, Schuur G
RIVM Report 2015-0194
Consumer products contain a wide range of chemical substances. In principle, such products are safe to use. The inspectors of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) conduct monitoring to ensure that the levels of chemical substances in consumer products do not exceed the applicable statutory limits. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has developed a tool that regulatory authorities can use to determine which substances or product groups require the most attention.
Which substances found in cosmetics should be prioritized? Which product group contains more potentially harmful substances: detergents or DIY products? The tool answers such questions using information obtained from the European database containing all substances that fall within the scope of the so-called REACH Regulation (Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals). The tool focuses on substances that are used in consumer products and that have one or more of the following hazardous properties: carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproduction toxicity, skin sensitizer or respiratory sensitizer.
The priority assigned to each substance is determined based on its hazard as well as the extent to which consumers are exposed to the substance. The risk assessment is based on these two factors. Exposure scores are determined by assigning weighting factors to the number of products containing a particular substance and the extent to which that substance can be released by the product concerned. The hazard score is determined by the severity of the substance's harmful effects and the potency of the substance.
Using the prioritization tool, chemical substances and product groups that may pose risks to consumers can be selected from the vast and ever-increasing amount of information about chemical substances.