Assessment of the potential human health risks from exposure to complex substances in accordance with REACH requirements. “White spirit” as a case study

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Abstract

The European chemical control regulation (REACH) requires that data on physical/chemical, toxicological and environmental hazards be compiled. Additionally, REACH requires formal assessments to ensure that substances can be safely used for their intended purposes. For health hazard assessments, reference values (Derived No Effect levels, DNELs) are calculated from toxicology data and compared to estimated exposure levels. If the ratio of the predicted exposure level to the DNEL, i.e. the Risk Characterization Ratio (RCR), is less than 1, the risk is considered controlled; otherwise, additional Risk Management Measures (RMM) must be applied. These requirements pose particular challenges for complex substances. Herein, “white spirit”, a complex hydrocarbon solvent, is used as an example to illustrate how these procedures were applied. Hydrocarbon solvents were divided into categories of similar substances. Representative substances were identified for DNEL determinations. Adjustment factors were applied to the no effect levels to calculate the DNELs. Exposure assessments utilized a standardized set of generic exposure scenarios (GES) which incorporated exposure predictions for solvent handling activities. Computer-based tools were developed to automate RCR calculations and identify appropriate RMMs, allowing consistent communications to users via safety data sheets.

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