Chemical substances are widely used in everyday life. Currently, chemicals of high risk are substituted manually by a limited number of alternative compounds, for which often information on the (eco)toxicological properties is lacking. Sciensano is involved in the development of the LIFE-VERMEER software that will automate the search for alternatives, by systematically exploring hundreds of possible substitutes, and by calculating the risk posed by the candidate substances. This will result in a reduction of dangerous chemicals without the need for animal experiments.
LIFE-VERMEER aims to develop a flexible, user-friendly tool for the substitution of chemical substances of high risk. When substituting these substances, a number of issues have to be addressed as the candidate substance may have its own risk profile. Thus, multiple assessments have to be performed to address the different possible human health or environmental hazards, the persistence or bioaccumulation potential of the chemical, and this by using various exposure scenarios.
At present, a series of tools has to be applied to perform these assessments, resulting in both practical and theoretical difficulties, as the individual parts of the evaluation may not cover the complete picture. ToxEraser will combine these different tools in one central platform and will have a broad range of applicability, as will be demonstrated in different case studies.
Furthermore, LIFE-VERMEER will also provide a unique tool, SPHERA, for the assessment of mixtures. Sciensano will be mainly involved in the case study with food contact materials (FCM). The ToxEraser tool will be used to evaluate which non-evaluated FCM substances have the highest priority to be replaced. Substitutes will be proposed, and discussed with stakeholders.