Pioneering research to improve persistence assessment of substances – NCEC to work with Cefic on ECO52

Pioneering research to improve persistence assessment of substances – NCEC to work with Cefic on ECO52
27 April 2020

The National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC), part of Ricardo, is pleased to announce that it will be working on a project with the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) as part of their Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) programme (Cefic-LRI). The project is titled ECO52: ‘Expanding the conceptual principles and applicability domain of persistence screening and prioritization frameworks, including single constituents, polymers, and UVCBs’, and aims to assess and improve the guidance on persistence assessment of substances. 

Persistence of substances cannot be measured directly as it results from the inherent properties of a substance and the environmental conditions where it is present, therefore, persistent assessment requires the use of various types of data. However, there is limited guidance on how to address key sources of variability in these data. For example, availability of substances to degradative microorganisms can vary widely in biodegradation tests. Existing approaches can be overly simplistic and not representative of dynamic processes in the environment. Also, many chemicals are unsuitable to be tested using standard tests, such as substances of unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products or of biological materials (UVCBs). 

During the project, NCEC experts will work in collaboration with German research organisation, Fraunhofer, to address existing screening and assessment issues. This will be achieved by improving available guidance for persistence assessment of substances, including those considered problematic to evaluate under the current frameworks.

Chris Hughes, Principal Regulatory Consultant at NCEC and lead scientist for this project, describes the potential impact of this work and highlights how NCEC will act as a centre of excellence: 

This project presents a significant opportunity to improve the consistency, predictability and robustness of persistence assessments at a time of growing interest in this important area. Our experience with complex and difficult test substances, and broader research into persistence assessment will be essential for this project and something that we intend to build on.’

'This project will play a pivotal role in addressing the conceptual principles of persistence within a regulatory context' said Dr Océane Albert, Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) Programme Manager. 'It will enable a robust, consistent, and transparent approach that addresses applicability domain challenges to provide practical guidance in persistence assessment.'

NCEC’s team has vast experience and in-depth knowledge of evaluating and assessing chemicals, gained over many years of working for multinational chemical companies, and within trade associations and academia. Our highly skilled specialists have a track record of supporting companies in performing ecotoxicology and environmental fate tests and engaging in technical discussions with regulatory authorities on their behalf. The uniqueness of our offering is in applying a combination of scientific expertise and regulatory insight to deliver superior outcomes, resilience and value for our customers.

Over the next couple of years, our team is looking forward to researching the issues with the current persistence frameworks and offering improvements that could significantly improve measurement techniques; reduce the risks of chemicals to people, the environment, assets and reputation; and inform future policy and regulations. 

You can read more about the project on the CEFIC-LRI programme website.