The OECD Cooperative Chemicals Assessment Programme was established, based on the previous High Production Volume (HPV) Chemicals Programme (see History of the Programme), to better respond to the changing needs of member countries, and the programme specifically addresses a number of member country challenges, such as:
- Assessing more chemicals in a shorter period of time
- Addressing all chemicals on the market
- Avoiding duplication with work going on in other countries
Key Programme Areas
The focus of the programme is on four principal areas:
1. Elaboration and Dissemination of OECD-wide Agreed Conclusions on Hazards of Chemicals
As in the HPV Chemicals Programme, the focus of the Cooperative Chemicals Assessment Programme is to derive OECD-wide agreed hazard assessments of chemicals. The scope of the programme, however, includes not only HPV chemicals, but also non-HPV, new and existing industrial chemicals.
The Screening Information Data Set (SIDS) (See Chapter 2 of the Manual for the Assessment of Chemicals) is the reference data set to perform an initial assessment in accordance with the OECD Decision-Recommendation of the Council on the Co-operative Investigation and Risk Reduction of Existing Chemicals [C(90)163/FINAL]. As in the HPV Chemicals Programme, full SIDS initial assessments, which address all SIDS endpoints for chemicals and chemical categories, are sponsored and prepared by member countries and the chemical industry. Hazard assessments prepared by chemical industry and authorities in the context of national/regional and industry programmes can be submitted to the programme with minimal rewriting and reformatting, provided the general objectives of the SIDS Initial Assessment Report and SIDS Dossier are met when submitting full SIDS assessments.
The programme also generates targeted assessments, i.e. hazard assessments that address a limited number of hazard endpoints short of the full SIDS assessment or for other hazard endpoints. The purpose of elaborating targeted assessments is to increase the availability of internationally agreed hazard assessments (even if it is on a limited number of endpoints) and thereby improve efficiency.
The programme also addresses specific types of chemicals, such as metals/inorganics, petroleum substances or polymers and develops the necessary guidance to assess the hazards of these substances.
Member countries and industry will share the burden in elaborating and reviewing hazard assessments for chemicals, while maintaining the current OECD high quality of assessments. Industry can submit draft assessments either via a sponsor country which will perform a first review of the assessment or directly through the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to OECD (BIAC).
The status of any chemical being assessed in the programme as well as final assessments are available in the OECD Existing Chemical Database. OECD-wide agreed hazard assessments will also be disseminated via the OECD Global Portal to Information of Chemical Substances.
Agreed conclusions are regularly published in a collection of assessment profiles in the OECD Series on Testing and Assessment
2. Development and Application of Integrated Approaches to Testing and Assessment
The Cooperative Chemicals Assessment Programme develops integrated approaches to testing and assessment and improves their regulatory acceptance, by applying them to actual hazard assessments elaborated within the programme.
Efforts continue to focus on expanding the chemical category concept, which has proven so successful over the last 10 years. New ways of grouping chemicals into toxicologically appropriate categories, e.g. according to mechanisms or modes of action, are also being investigated.
Furthermore, the programme continues to improve the expertise in and regulatory acceptance of (Q)SAR methodologies in general, via an improved collaboration between (Q)SAR experts and hazard assessors and trainings.
As new types of data such as genomics or high-throughput in vitro test results become available, the programme will investigate how such data sets can be used to characterize the hazards of chemicals.
3. Avoiding Duplication
Another focus of the Programme is on avoiding duplication among member countries. As member countries implement their national/regional programmes to assess more chemicals in a shorter timeframe, the risk of duplication increases. The OECD Global Portal to Information of Chemical Substances (eChemPortal) continues to improve access to existing hazard information and assessments, including GHS classifications and underlying datasets. The Cooperative Chemicals Assessment Programme will furthermore be the forum to share future plans for chemical assessment within countries and regions and possible partnerships for assessing specific chemicals or chemical categories.
4. Providing a Forum to Exchange Experience in Member Countries
The Cooperative Chemicals Assessment Programme will also be a forum to exchange experience among member countries to avoid duplication of efforts and identify issues for collaborative work. Examples of topics for exchange of information and experience are:
- National/regional and industry-developed methodologies for hazard assessment
- Priority setting
- Categorization of inventories
- GHS classifications
- Effects from exposure to multiple chemicals
- Assessment of endocrine disruptors