The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) has joined a major European research and innovation programme to develop next-generation chemical risk assessment, incorporating both human health and the environment in a ‘One Health’ approach.

The 400-million-euro European Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals (PARC) is a seven-year partnership between 200 partners in 28 countries including the United Kingdom. It includes national agencies and research organisations as well as the European Chemicals Agency, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Environment Agency.

The results of the programme will be used to support new European and national strategies to reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals and their impact on health and the environment.

The goal is to generate new, easily accessible and usable data, along with new assessment methods and tools. In particular, PARC will help with the development of tools to identify new, less hazardous substances that are in keeping with sustainable development approaches.

This supports the European Union's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, paving the way for a "zero pollution" ambition announced in the European Green Deal.

PARC encompasses all aspects of chemical risk assessment, aiming in particular to: better anticipate emerging risks, better account for combined risks, and underpin measures to safeguard health and the environment.

Dr Claus Svendsen, head of UKCEH’s Pollution science area, is one of the scientists involved with PARC. He said: “The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is delighted to be contributing to this significant collaborative programme of research and innovation delivering improvements to chemical risk assessment.

“Chemicals are everywhere in our daily life and play a fundamental role in most of our activities. However, many have hazardous properties which can harm the environment and human health if products and waste aren't handled appropriately. 

“Global chemicals production is expected to double by 2030, so the already widespread use of chemicals will also increase, including in everyday consumer products. We must ensure that new chemicals and materials are inherently designed with safety and sustainability in mind, from production to end of life.”

UKCEH’s specific role on the PARC programme is to contribute to: 

  • improved understanding of, and new tools for, identification of emerging chemical risks; 
  • improved monitoring of the environment for possible failures in chemical management; 
  • novel techniques to identify especially sensitive species and sub-populations; 
  • steps to include the management of risks from exposure to multiple chemicals and stressors either together or in sequence.

The partnership’s budget of 400 million euros is 50 per cent funded by the European Union and 50 per cent funded by EU member states. The French organisation ANSES is the partnership coordinator. 

Related links

Launch of the European research and innovation PARC programme to improve chemical risk assessment

The EU's Chemicals strategy