To identify a ‘safe chemical’ or a ‘safe use of chemicals’ is challenging. An assessment of the risks must evaluate the impacts on human health and environment, which are separate disciplines. The indicators for distinguishing between safe and unsafe chemicals must incorporate multiple criteria related to both exposure and hazard. The determination of safe chemicals then requires a single index, integrating the multiple dimensions of the exposure and hazard factors. Quantitative Structure–Activity Relationship (QSAR) models facilitate the management and effective use of such multidimensional information, by integrating the data into a single decision-making index for the systematic screening of risky chemicals and their potential alternatives.
The objective of the LIFE VERMEER project is to deliver flexible and user-friendly software tools, called SPHERA and ToxEraser, for the substitution of harmful chemicals. SPHERA will be a diagnostic tool for identifying the adverse effects related to chemicals, and ToxEraser will provide the remedy by suggesting suitable alternative chemicals. Together, these QSAR software modelling tools will enable multiple assessments to be conducted to determine risks and hazards towards human health or to other species, and the persistence or bioaccumulation of chemicals taking into account different exposure scenarios. The tools will have broad application, which will be demonstrated through a series of heterogeneous studies. Both tools will be validated within six case studies (food contact materials, biocides, petroleum and oil fraction, greener solvents, dispersants and cosmetics), so that they can become part of the VEGA (Virtual models for property Evaluation of chemicals within a Global Architecture) platform for QSAR models.
The project will provide great benefits throughout Europe by integrating exposure and hazard into a single advanced tool for risk assessment and for the harmonisation of human and environmental approaches, in particular, for the implementation of the REACH regulation.
Expected results: The LIFE VERMEER project aims to achieve the following results: