The ‘cocktail effect’ is when the negative sum of two chemicals is greater than their individual parts. The Government is now taking a holistic approach to address the risks of groups or combinations of chemicals by appointing an inquiry.
Research has given society a great deal of information about the hazardous qualities of certain chemicals. Within the EU, these substances are often regulated one at a time, but it is not common for similar substances to be regulated in groups. The Government wants to change this and also considers that a system is needed that takes account of the fact that chemical substances can aggravate each other's hazardous effects – this is known as 'combination effects' or 'cocktail effects'. The Government will therefore take a decision tomorrow to appoint an inquiry that will propose strategies for how to deal with substances in groups and how to take account of the cocktail effect in legislation regulating chemicals. The Government will then also appoint Christina Rudén, Professor of Regulatory Toxicology and Ecotoxicology at Stockholm University, as Inquiry Chair.
"It is high time we take a holistic approach to the large amounts of chemicals we are all exposed to in our everyday lives and produce a strategy for managing the risks. I am pleased that Christina Rudén, with her unique experience and expertise, has taken on this important assignment," says Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog.
Since 2010 the Government has been pursuing a special initiative to follow an action plan for a toxin-free everyday environment. The action plan will continue until 2020.