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REACH and the safe use of chemicals: definition and development of expo- sure scenarios

Dirk Bunke

elni Review 2006, pp. 3-6.

Sustainable management of chemicals requires sufficient information on properties of substances and on the conditions of their safe use. Therefore, the so-called “chemical safety assessment” plays an important role in the registration procedure within the REACH proposal from October 2003. The chemical safety assessment aims to describe the potential effects of chemicals on human health in a structured way and the environment as well as the conditions which are necessary for their safe use. One part of the chemical safety assessment is the exposure assessment. It consists of two elements: development of exposure scenarios and exposure estimation. Exposure scenarios describe the conditions of use and are themselves results of the chemical safety assessment. Following the publication of the White Paper in 2001, discussion began on how to achieve a “workable” REACH. A plethora of recommendations were developed in order to make the registration more efficient without reducing quality in the course of this step. The grouping of “similar” uses and “similar” exposure situations is one important possibility. Several approaches for such groupings have been developed in the interim. Some of these concepts supplement the exposure scenario approach of REACH, others intend to replace this concept. “Categories” is the common heading for different approaches (use categories, exposure categories, use- and exposure categories…). Until now no definition for an exposure category has come into being. In some cases, suggestions for “(use/exposure) categories” are part of even broader proposals regarding further elements of the REACH proposal. This makes the discussion of these concepts more complex and difficult. This paper aims to give a short introduction to exposure assessment under REACH. It addresses key points of current discussion on exposure scenarios and exposure categories. Reference points are the REACH proposal from October 2003 (CEC 2003), experiences accrued in pilot trials on REACH, recent papers on several category approaches as well as the results of the workshop on the practical preparation for REACH in Arona, January 2005 (CEC 2005).

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