Why you should know about ‘the mixture effect'
Today, CHEM trust are thrilled to announce the release of our report “Chemical cocktails – The neglected threat of mixture effects and how to fix it”, which highlights three things:
- The reality of our exposure to multiple chemicals in daily life
- The threat this represents for human and environmental health
- How legislation needs to change to protect us
Our exposure to multiple chemicals
During just one day, you and I can be exposed to many chemicals from multiple sources, such as PFAS from our rain jacket and the bakery bag holding our croissant; bisphenols from our reusable water bottle and the receipt we’ve been handed at the till; flame retardants from our sofa and TV equipment; pesticide residues from the apple we have at our lunch break, and many more background contaminants present in our indoor air, drinking water and food.
The threat this represents
We don’t know the full composition of the chemical mixtures we (and the environment) are exposed to on a daily basis. However, we know that dozens to hundreds of chemical pollutants can be detected in our bodies, our children’s bodies as well as in environmental samples. Decades of research have demonstrated that exposure to real-life mixtures made up of various individual chemicals present at levels considered safe actually trigger adverse effects. This is because when added together as a mixture, chemicals can reinforce each other’s negative impact. This is the mixture effect.
This cocktail of chemicals also ends up in the environment via wastewater discharge, air deposition, sewage sludge spreading and many other routes; exposing aquatic and terrestrial wildlife to mixtures of these harmful substances.
Why is current legislation not sufficient?
The current approach to chemical safety assesses one chemical at a time and in isolation. The true risks resulting from combined exposure to numerous chemicals, even at low levels, are being vastly underestimated. This means we lack proper protection from our real-life exposure to a large number of different chemicals.
Why talk about this now?
The new EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability includes important policy commitments to address the risks from mixture exposures. After decades of inaction of dealing with chemical cocktails there is no more time to delay. CHEM Trust outlines in the report the workable, effective policy solutions that could be implemented to address this pressing issue.
The report has been generously funded by The Waterloo Foundation.