We use products such as toothpaste, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning materials, paint and printer cartridges on a daily basis. All these products contain chemical substances which must be entirely safe. In other words, they must not pose any risk to health.
At the behest of
the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA),
RIVM helps to develop the methods which are used to
determine the safety of chemicals and chemical products. We also
research their health impact: are they carcinogenic, for example?
Do they affect fertility or normal foetal development? Are they
allergenic? RIVM analyses and interprets research data
provided by manufacturers and by other research institutes. We
register reported health effects, such as poisoning or skin
reactions caused by cosmetics. We also develop 'exposure
models' with which manufacturers and researchers can predict
the degree to which consumers will come into contact with the
chemicals in a product. As yet, there is no mandatory requirement
to register the chemical composition of consumer products. However,
there is legislation, including the European REACH regulations,
which requires manufacturers to demonstrate that all substances are
used in a safe manner. RIVM plays a part in the implementation of
this legislation, formulating the necessary guidelines and
RIVMâ€™s research provides the evidence base needed to support risk reduction measures. We examine overall exposure to chemical substances at all points in the chain.
Most of RIVM's work in the field of consumer products is commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and the European Commission. Our research partners include the University of Wageningen, where researchers study how consumers actually use certain products.