WHO Collaborating Centre for Immunotoxicology and Allergic Hypersensitivity was concerned with adverse effects of chemicals on the immune system and aimed to improve risk assessment methodologies in this field. The Collaborating Centre was instated within the International Programme on Chemical Safety of WHO and was a member of the WHO/IPCS Risk Assessment Network. The Collaborating Centre was discontinued in April 2019.

Terms of reference

Fields of expertise

News and activities

Chemical safety

WHO Collaborating Centre for Immunotoxicology and Allergic Hypersensitivity has had its focus on principles and methods of assessing immunotoxicity associated with exposure to chemicals. It has been instrumental in developing a harmonised approach to risk assessment in this field.

The Centre focussed on adverse immune effects of nanoparticles. The research on the harmful effects of nanoparticles has resulted in much information but has as yet not delivered tools that are useful for regulation and policymakers. The studies have been too fragmented, which is not surprising given the breadth of the field.

Immunotoxicology of nanoparticles

Because the immune system is one of the most important targets of nanoparticles, RIVM has identified immunotoxicity of nanoparticles as an important priority. Effects may vary from immunosuppression by a deficient functioning of the immune system, leading to a decreased resistance to infections and tumours, and a disturbed functioning of the immune system, resulting in the promotion of allergy and autoimmunity. For all conditions, indications have been observed.

Coordination of the Centre

WHO Collaborating Centre of Immunotoxicology and Allergic Hypersensitivity was coordinated by Janine Ezendam, senior scientific advisor at RIVM Centre for Health Protection.