PARC aims to develop next-generation chemical risk assessment to protect human health and the environment. It supports the European Union's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the European Green Deal's “Zero pollution” ambition with new data, knowledge, methods and tools, expertise and networks.
How dangerous are chemicals that we use and come into contact with every day?
How dangerous are chemicals that we use and come into contact with every day? The “PARC” initiative of the European Union (EU), launched in Paris on 11 May 2022, is breaking new ground in the assessment of chemical substances. The aim is to improve knowledge about chemical substances to accelerate actions to better protect human health and the environment.
The 7-year partnership under Horizon Europe has a total funding volume of €400 million for the next seven years, 50% funded by the European Union and 50% by Member States.
A key objective of PARC is to promote European cooperation, advance research, increase knowledge of chemical risk assessment and train relevant methodological skills. The results will help launch European and national strategies to reduce risks posed by hazardous chemicals to health and the environment. Further on they will help to reduce animal testing and implement strategies for next-generation risk assessment.
As multinational European project, PARC involves close to 200 institutions working in the areas of the environment or public health from 28 countries and three EU authorities, including the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). The partnership is coordinated by ANSES, the French Agency for Food Safety, Environmental Protection and Occupational Health. It is bringing into play public partners across the continent, including European and national risk assessment agencies, universities and public research organisations. Five Directorates-General of the European Commission (DG-RTD, DG-GROW, DG-ENV, DG-SANTE and JRC) and the relevant ministries of the countries involved are contributing to the governance of PARC and will monitor its activities.
Protecting humans and the environment to a new level
PARC aims to advance research, share knowledge and improve skills in chemical risk assessment. By doing so, it supports the European Union's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, paving the way for the “Zero pollution” ambition announced in the European Green Deal.
“PARC represents a project of unprecedented scale, since it brings together about 200 European players, involving national and European health and safety agencies as well as research organisations. This partnership provides an excellent opportunity to boost research and innovation in support of chemical risk assessment, aiming in particular to: better anticipate emerging risks, better account for combined risks, and underpin the concrete implementation of new orientations in European public policies to safeguard health and the environment in response to important issues for health, the ecology and citizens' expectations” highlights Pascal Sanders, PARC coordinator at ANSES, the French Agency for Food Safety, Environmental Protection and Occupational Health.
According to Sofie Norager, Deputy Head of the Industrial Transformation Unit in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, “PARC is a research and innovation tool that will provide the scientific know-how needed for support the European Union's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, mainly for implementing the "one substance, one assessment” approach. The principle is to conduct a risk assessment of a substance that can be reused in other areas. Indeed, if a substance is determined to be toxic in a food, why would it not be toxic in another everyday product?
“PARC brings together chemical risk assessors and managers together with scientists and stakeholders to accelerate method development and the production of necessary data and knowledge, responding to the needs of end-users”. The partnership will actively look for and implement synergies as well as developing interactions with other R&I initiatives and key stakeholders. “PARC is fully committed and constructed in such a way as to promote transparent dialogue, collaboration and capacity building, which is essential for the identification of needs, opportunities for harmonisation actions and development and use of tools that respond to these needs” explains Sanders. “It is important to promote a transparent dialogue between scientific and regulatory bodies” stresses the expert.
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