Solvent use in consumer chemical products
Solvents represent a range of chemicals finding application in various industry sectors including construction, chemical, pharmaceutical, and agriculture. They are defined as substances with the ability to dissolve, suspend or extract other materials. The range of consumer products and articles containing solvents spans cosmetics, personal care, household cleaning products, paints and coatings, adhesives and sealants, fuels and automotive care products, etc. While benefiting from a diversity of solvents and their unique properties, the general population may be exposed to them via inhalation of vapour or aerosols, dermally via direct contact or vapour absorption, and/or by incidental ingestion. Under the European Union’s legislation for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH), the evaluation of safe consumer use of these chemicals is normally carried out at a generic product category level using realistic worst-case scenario exposure models embedding conservative input parameters. The case study on solvent use demonstrated that, while being useful to determine safe use, the lower tier tools do not provide realistic exposure estimates that could be summed up across products to derive multi-source aggregate consumer exposure. Supplementary exposure data on product co-use, timing, duration and frequency of product application, chemical occurrence, would allow significant refinement of aggregate exposure predictions. The presentation drew upon literature case studies to also identify considerations for determining when aggregate exposure may be most informative, given the additional resources needed to support these complex assessments.
Dr Dudzina summarised the sources and typical properties of solvents (e.g. high volatility, varying water solubility, low toxicity of those introduced into consumer products) and gave a synopsis of the landscaping exercise with respect to wide range of consumer products (i.e. existing exposure models and data sources and gaps). This demonstrated the inappropriateness of existing low tier tools to model aggregate consumer exposure. Dr Dudzina went on to review alternative approaches (i.e. grouping of product categories on their use frequency) and identify data gaps for aggregate consumer exposure assessment in application to a wide range of consumer products.