Children can be more vulnerable than adults to chemicals. Considering global concern for children’s health, the OECD has been working to bring together knowledge and experiences to reduce risks to children’s health from chemicals.
The OECD releases a new report on Considerations when Assessing Children's Exposure to Chemicals from Products, 2019 [ENV/JM/MONO(2019)29].
It has been shown that children can be more vulnerable than adults to environmental hazards, such as those presented by chemicals, due to their physiological differences and unique behaviours. Risk assessment methodologies that specifically consider children are required to ensure that potential risks are addressed.
Following an OECD-wide survey of methodologies and tools used to assess the risk of chemicals to children’s health in 2011-2012 and a workshop held in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on 7-8 October 2013, the following projects are currently being carried out.
1. Decision Tree Project
A decision tree is being developed to serve as a basis for determining the need for a child-specific exposure assessment. This decision tree will also be applied to case studies related to variations in product categories, articles, uses, children’s behaviour and exposure routes.
2. Potential Follow-up Projects
Based on the progress of the decision tree project, additional projects could be launched, such as:
Considerations when Assessing Children's Exposure to Chemicals from Products, 2019 [ENV/JM/MONO(2019)29]
This document aims to enhance awareness for inclusion of children’s exposure in risk assessments when relevant and presents a children’s exposure decision tree that facilitates such decisions. The decision tree can be used to identify if a separate exposure assessment is needed with regard to children, and also aims to identify whether the exposure assessment conducted for adults already provides an acceptable level of safety of children. The focus of this document is on ‘industrial chemicals’, and targeted at ‘consumer products’. However, other types of products may also be covered, as such definitions can differ between countries. The key point of the document is to create awareness on child specific exposure. It is important to realise that legislations can also differ between countries, including existing requirements on whether to perform child-specific exposure and risk assessments. Exposure via food or the environment is regarded as background exposure in this document.
Estimating Mouthing Exposure in Children – Compilation of Case Studies, 2019 [ENV/JM/MONO(2019)24]
This considerations document presents a comprehensive analysis of children’s exposure to chemicals through mouthing, sucking and chewing on toys, books, textiles, etc. for addressing potential risks to children’s health from chemicals. Based on fifteen case studies, the document discusses key considerations from these case studies for target age groups, mouthing materials, algorithms and parameters, exposure values, hazard endpoints, default values and uncertainties.
Report on OECD Workshop on Children’s exposure to chemicals, 2014 [ENV/JM/MONO(2014)29]
This document presents the results of a workshop on children’s exposure to chemicals held on 7-8 October 2013 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The main outcomes are 1) a draft decision tree to enable risk assessors to decide when they should perform a child-specific exposure and risk assessment, and 2) recommendations for further work on specific exposure assessment issues.
Assessing the risk of chemicals to children’s health: an OECD-wide survey, 2013 [ENV/JM/MONO(2013)20]
This document presents the results of a survey of methodologies and tools used to assess the risk of chemicals to children’s health. It compiles currently available methodologies and tools for assessing the risk of chemicals to children’s health and also identifies possible needs for additional guidance or tools for assessing the risk of chemicals to children’s health. The following areas of risk assessment are covered: the definition of terms, hazard assessment, exposure assessment, risk characterisation, cohort studies and combined exposure to multiple chemicals.