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Chemical safety in focus: joint research to help protect people and the environment

09/2022, 18.03.2022

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research agree on closer cooperation

Joint press release by BfR and UFZ

Every day, people are exposed to a large number of chemicals and substances, many of which will also end up in the environment. In recent years a number of methods and concepts have been developed for assessing the toxicity and potential risks of the respective substances and mixtures for humans and the environment. The scientific exchange of innovations in experimental toxicology and analytical sciences together with their further development will form the focus of a newly formed research cooperation between the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). A respective agreement was signed by BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel and the UFZ's Directors Professor Dr. Georg Teutsch and Dr. Sabine König. "The well-being of people and the environment are closely interlinked. Besides their intended use and function chemicals may also have unintended or unwanted impacts. The aim of this cooperation is to strengthen the protection of consumers and the environment by developing new strategies for chemical risk assessment," says BfR President Hensel with regard to the cooperation. The UFZ's Scientific Director Prof. Teutsch confirms by highlighting the usefulness of the cooperation: "The UFZ develops strategies for predicting the fate and effects of chemicals, with a clear focus on the toxicological assessment of mixtures. The UFZ’s development of methodology hence supports the BfR in its assessments."

The joint activities will focus on research projects in the fields of experimental toxicology and analytics. This comprises the development of new methods for identifying the effects of chemicals on humans and the potential of these methods for risk assessment. The respective results, concepts and topics will also be subject of joint international workshops. Improved analytics are already helping to clarify the extent to which people are exposed to chemicals and mixtures. The corresponding exposure may be the result of foreseeable application within clearly defined regulatory remits. However, in case of simultaneous cross-regulatory uses of substances or environmental background exposure contact with and uptake of the corresponding substances will be less predictable. Both institutions, BfR and UFZ, jointly perform research on the effects of substances and mixtures on human health and environmental organisms. The implementation, improvement and use of alternative, animal-free methods is another focus of the collaboration. In addition to innovations in the field of methodology, concepts within experimental toxicology are also subject to constant development, and should be further advance through the cooperation of both institutes.

The BfR and UFZ strive for close cooperation in order to facilitate basic research and translate research findings into practice through the transfer of knowledge and technologies.

About the UFZ

In the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), scientists conduct research into the causes and consequences of far-reaching environmental changes. Their areas of study cover water resources, ecosystems of the future, environmental technologies and biotechnologies, the effects of chemicals in the environment, modelling and social-scientific issues. The UFZ employs around 1,100 people at its sites in Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. It is funded by the Federal Government, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the federal states (‘Länder’) on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks. The BfR employs around 1,150 people at three locations in Berlin.

This text version is a translation of the original German text, which is the only legally binding version.




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