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Modernizing Hazard Indicators (ModHaz)

© sirylok/stock.adobe.com

The project aims at the stakeholder dialogue on novel indicators for chemicals assessment within the framework of the Green Deal.

Chemical hazard assessment is a key element of the Green Deal. However, the implementation requires a paradigm shift in three respects. First, high-throughput screening methods are required for thousands of chemicals. Previous methods assess a small number of individual substances. The procedures, while detailed, are slow. On the other hand, there is a transition from individual to comparative assessments of necessary chemicals. And thirdly, there should be a change from animal testing to animal-free methods. While scientific concepts for modern hazard indicators are discussed among experts and case studies show their feasibility and usefulness, there is no dialogue with industry and regulation about the potential and social impact of the proposed paradigm shift.

The present project will remedy this and align the development of indicators for risk assessment to the needs of the various target groups. To this end, the Helmholtz team proposes two innovative hazard indicators, known as cumulative toxicity equivalents (CTE) and persistent toxicity equivalents (PTE). Together they replaced existing indicators. They can be measured with high-throughput in vitro bioassays and are not tested on animals.

© Jan Pauls Fotografie

General Assembly 2023

Beate Escher and Pia-Johanna Schweizer introduced the SynCom project during the Helmholtz Earth & Environment General Assembly. Katja Matthes, Vice President of Sustainability at Helmholtz, extended her congratulations to them for the commencement of their project.

Kick-off Workshop

Scientists from the Modernizing Hazard Indicators Project (ModHaz) convened through a virtual platform on July 19, 2023, to hold a Kick-off Workshop.

© Helmholtz/SynCom

Planning of stakeholder meetings

On November 13, 2023, the SynCom project team met at the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) in Potsdam to prepare four stakeholder workshops with members of industry and industry associations, science, NGOs, and legislation and regulation. The stakeholder workshops will take place in November and December 2023 and are aimed at collecting the opinions of these stakeholder groups on the novel method for chemical hazard assessment developed by the ModHaz team.

4 stakeholder workshops

Four workshops took place in November and December 2023 with stakeholders from industry, NGOs, science as well as legislation and regulation, in which four key questions were discussed:

1.) What are the strengths and weaknesses of hazard assessment in the current EU chemicals policy?

2.) Who or what has influenced/hindered the current role of hazard assessment in EU chemicals policy?

3.) Which event (or events) in the context of hazard assessments had a significant influence on EU chemicals policy? In your opinion, was the influence positive or negative?

4.) What should hazard assessment look like in future chemicals policy?

The ModHaz project team led by Prof. Dr. Beate Escher proposed their new concept for the evaluation of chemicals, which aims to both increase the throughput of the chemicals to be evaluated and to evaluate them comparatively. In addition, a paradigm shift towards evaluation without animal testing should be initiated.

Project meeting in Leipzig

On February 7, 2024, the project group met at the UFZ in Leipzig to discuss the draft of the policy brief, which includes the narratives derived from the stakeholder workshops. In addition, the synthesis workshop, which will take place in Berlin in March, was organized.

ModHaz Synthesis-workshop with members of diverse interest groups
As part of the ModHaz project, a two-day workshop took place in Berlin on March 12-13, 2024, with representatives from companies and business associations, academia, NGOs, as well as legislative and regulatory bodies in attendance. The synthesis workshop facilitated a constructive and co-creative dialogue, integrating the diverse perspectives and viewpoints of the involved stakeholder groups. Together, the various viewpoints were discussed, and on this basis, a policy brief was further developed, which will be presented at a parliamentary evening in the Bundestag in November 2024.

Workshop report


Prof Dr Beate Escher (UFZ): beate.escher@ufz.de 
Dr Pia-Johanna Schweizer (RIFS): pia-johanna.schweizer@rifs-potsdam.de
Prof Dr Sina Leipold (UFZ):  sina.leipold@ufz.de