Workshop Summary: Integrating New Advances in Exposure Science and Toxicity Testing – Next Steps

Home / In the Spotlight / Workshop Summary: Integrating New Advances in Exposure Science and Toxicity Testing – Next Steps

In the Spotlight

Workshop Summary: Integrating New Advances in Exposure Science and Toxicity Testing – Next Steps

This article is adapted from a draft Executive Summary that has been developed for the full workshop report now in preparation by the ACC LRI.

Published: August 11, 2010

The International Council of Chemical Associations’ Long-Range Research Initiative (ICCA-LRI) in conjunction with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) held its 2010 Workshop, Integrating New Advances in Exposure Science and Toxicity Testing: Next Steps, on June 16 and 17, 2010 in Stresa, Italy. More than 120 participants from government, academia, non-governmental organizations and industry representing 19 countries attended the workshop, the sixth in the ICCA-LRI annual series.

Integrating developments in exposure science and toxicology is essential for meaningful advancement of knowledge-based decision making about the safety of chemicals. A key consideration for this workshop was application of integrated approaches in these scientific disciplines to the design, evaluation, and health risk management of chemicals. This workshop also considered what research is needed to improve communication between scientists and decision makers, and with stakeholders and end-users, including the public, to develop better chemical management policies and practices.

A full-length report on the workshop will be available on the websites of the ICCA-LRI (http://www.icca-chem.eu/Home/ICCA-initiatives/Long-range-research-initiative-LRI/) and the American Chemistry Council-LRI (http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/sec_lri.asp?CID=1369&DID=5053) in early fall.
Key outcomes included the following:

  • Advances in molecular technologies are enabling environmental epidemiology and toxicology to identify the exposure-effect relationship at the cellular, organismal, and population levels.
  • The success of these approaches hinges on the availability of biologically-relevant exposure information that is rapidly evolving from improved measurement technologies, more targeted biomonitoring studies, and applications of advanced informatics and computational tools.
  • The exposome, defined as the totality of exposures over a lifetime, was highlighted as a possible framework for guiding developments in exposure science.
  • Stem cells offer great potential for the development of in vitro toxicity models that are relevant to effects that can occur in humans; similarly, new imaging methods offer innovative approaches to understand mechanisms of toxicity in in vitromodels.
  • Computational models are becoming increasingly sophisticated and advanced both in the analysis of ‘omics’ data, such as high throughput methods, as well as in their predictive capabilities, such as for biological system interactions and QSAR modelling.
  • New informational tools, including the Toxicological Priority Index (also known as ToxPi) and the Chemical Screening Visualization Tool, can incorporate and transform multiple types of chemical information into visual formats that facilitate chemical prioritization and identification of areas for additional toxicity testing.
  • Value of information methods and other decision analysis tools provide an approach for identifying those test protocols that offer the best value in terms of resource allocation.
  • Effective communication about chemicals must include both risk and benefit information so that all stakeholders, including the public, are fully informed.
  • Risk characterization is an analytical, deliberative, and decision-driven process; successful characterization of risk for chemicals requires getting the science and the participation right as well as getting the right science and the right participation.
  • Stakeholders must be part of the risk assessment process to improve credibility and the utility of the results; input, dialogue, and engagement are more important than consensus among all stakeholders.

Undoubtedly, new cellular, analytical, and computational methods, individually and in combination, provide exciting new approaches for chemical evaluation and integrated testing strategies. However, a significant confluence of will and resources will be required to implement these strategies and to create the requisite paradigm shift in chemical safety assessments. Without a collective commitment to build capacity and to create a strategic shift, the advancements in science discussed at this workshop are likely to outpace the decision making, regulatory, and policy mechanisms that need to reflect the new science.

This JRC & ICCA-LRI workshop provided an international forum to foster interactions among researchers and stakeholders, stimulate discussions for improving the scientific basis for policymaking, and support consensus building that can advance the risk assessment process for chemicals. This and the previous ICCA-LRI workshops demonstrate the value of participatory and collaborative development of the science relevant to directly addressing many of the complex scientific and regulatory challenges for effective chemical management policies.