Christina Rudén, Professor of Regulatory Toxicology and Ecotoxicology at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Analytical Chemistry (ACES), has been appointed the Government’s special investigator on how chemicals legislation could also include mixtures and grouping of chemicals. Photo: Annika Hallman.

“Risk assessments typically deal with one chemical at the time even though we are exposed to hundreds or even thousands of chemicals in a complex mix. We know that this approach systematically underestimates the risks”, says Christina Rudén, Professor of Regulatory Toxicology and Ecotoxicology at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Analytical Chemistry (ACES).

In March, she was appointed the Government’s special investigator on how chemicals legislation could also include mixtures and grouping of chemicals. To clarify what the assignment is about, she points to the floor, the table and the chairs in her office on the fifth floor of Geohuset.

It is the mixture of chemicals that is called the cocktail effect: that the negative health effects of individual chemical substances add to each other.

“We are surrounded by chemicals everywhere. Just here, where we are sitting now, there are a lot of chemicals: In the plastic floor, flame retardants in the textiles on the chairs, the color on the wall, and the coating of the table. The exposures are of course low but what effect does these long term exposures have on us all together? We do currently not have legal systems that assess the effects of those combined exposures”, says Christina Rudén.

It is this mixture of chemicals that is called the cocktail effect: that the negative health effects of individual chemical substances add to each other.

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