Plant protection products (PPPs) are products used in agriculture to protect crops against, for example, fungi, insects and weeds. Each product is assessed to determine whether it is safe for people and the environment. Through their diet, people come into contact with multiple substances at the same time. The effect of this combined exposure is called ‘cumulative effect’ or ‘mixture toxicity’. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Biometris (Wageningen University & Research) have jointly developed a calculation model to calculate this mixture toxicity in food. This calculation model is called the Monte Carlo Risk Assessment (MCRA).

The EFSA methods and the MCRA model make it possible to conduct mixture risk assessment relating to food throughout Europe, as described in the legislation on PPPs.

RIVM and EFSA have jointly taken important steps to prepare this calculation model for international use by risk assessors. In addition to the legislation on PPPs, the European rules state that it is important that the risk assessment of chemicals is fully transparent and public. A joint report by RIVM and EFSA explains the MCRA model and describes how it meets these legal requirements.

Recommendations for use

The report also provides recommendations on how the model can be used in the risk assessment of PPPs. In the past year, RIVM has provided training in the use of the calculation model to users who have a responsibility with regard to risk assessment, such as risk assessors. Furthermore, there is an MCRA help desk where they can receive assistance with carrying out calculations. RIVM offers this support.