Risk assessment

Unit responsible: 

Evaluating the risks linked to chemical substances and non-ionising radiation

We evaluate the toxicity of chemical substances, including certain endocrine disruptors, and the health hazards linked to exposure to non-ionising radiation (for example the waves emitted by mobile phones and relay antennas). We also determine the genotoxic potential of plant extracts and materials that come into contact with food. We critically analyse all of the available data: that which comes from scientific literature and that which is supplied by industry. We perform exposure estimations of the Belgian population to food contaminants in the context of health risk assessment studies. Our evaluations enable the national and international health authorities to adapt their legislation based on objective scientific evidence, and therefore to work towards increasingly efficient public health policies.

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We evaluate the toxicity of non-ionising radiation and that of chemical substances present in our environment and our food, such as pesticides, food contaminants or indeed materials that come into contact with food (aluminium trays, packaging boxes, etc.). In collaboration with other services, we identify the hazard and potential risks to health brought on by exposure to these products. Based on the opinions we give, the health authorities can take measures aimed at eliminating or limiting their harmful effects on human health.

We remain at the cutting edge of progress by closely following developments in toxicity, genotoxicity and risk assessment. For example, we use software for predicting the toxicity of chemical substances and new tools that make it easier to understand the mechanisms of toxicity. We also participate in various research projects, mainly in the field of genotoxicity and risk assessment. We also develop analytical methods for measuring endocrine disruptors in the placenta and evaluate babies’ exposure to these substances during pregnancy and the effects they may have on babies’ and young children’s development (growth, learning capacities, etc.).

Finally, we collaborate with the Belgian health authorities and universities. At European level, we co-operate with various departments in the European Commission, as well as with the ECHA and EFSA. Our partners at international level are the UN, the WHO, the OECD and the ICNIRP.

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