In-depth evaluation confirms robust design of ECETOC risk assessment screening tool for consumer products

Brussels, 26 January 2023 – A task force from the Centre for chemical safety assessment (ECETOC) has carried out an in-depth evaluation of its Targeted Risk Assessment (TRA) Consumer exposure tool and concluded it meets its design objectives of being a robust screening level exposure assessment tool.

The task force reviewed the tool’s algorithms and defaults, and benchmarked its performance against other consumer exposure models and/or empirical data, with the objective of examining whether or not it under-predicts potential exposures. The task force also considered existing external reviews of the tool.

The evaluation found that the consumer TRA predictions were higher than measured exposures (when these are available), typically by orders of magnitude, and were generally greater than or similar to those of other exposure tools.

The full assessment was published in Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology and can be found here.

Since 2010, the ECETOC’s TRA tool has been widely used by companies in Europe to create screening level exposure assessments for REACH dossiers of chemical substances. The tool calculates the levels of exposure to chemicals for workers, consumers and the environment and then compares them to independently established appropriate safe exposure levels (DNELs or PNECs). It is the preferred approach under REACH for evaluating consumer and worker health risks.

This is the first evaluation of the TRA consumer tool in its entirety, including its algorithms, input defaults, and associated exposure predictions for consumer products and articles.

The TRA consumer exposure tool was built to be pragmatic: efficiently providing exposure estimations for the many chemical substances and use scenarios required under the REACH regulation. The tool's design requires minimal substance-specific input data, to enable exposure prediction across a wide range of substances for which data availability varies.

Because it screens many substances and scenarios quickly as a first step (removing some substance-scenario combinations from more detailed analysis while identifying others that should go on to further assessment), it is important that the tool does not produce ‘false negatives’ – i.e., does not predict exposures lower than they would be in reality.

In the absence of specific use information, the tool’s scenario defaults were therefore designed to be conservative representations of the intended conditions of a substance’s use.