News about Environment and Toxicology

April 2010



New potential Substances of Very High Concern

Boric acid is among the eight new substances which have been proposed for identification as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC). Boric acid is used in a multitude of applications, e.g. in personal care products, food additives, rubber, fertilisers, flame retardants, paints, industrial fluids, etc. Like the other seven substances Boric acid has been proposed due to its potentially serious effects on human health, for instance toxic for reproduction.

Interested parties are invited to comment on the eight proposals by 22 April 2010. After this date ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, evaluates whether the substances should be included on the Candidate List. Once a substance is included on the Candidate List new information is required for suppliers of preparations and articles containing this substance.

For more information on the eight substances, including the reasons for their proposal and their potential uses, read here.

Acrylamide included
In late March ECHA announced that also Acrylamide has been added to the Candidate List of SVHC substances. The decision as to whether Acrylamide needs to be subjected to authorisation will be taken later. However, companies who manufacture or import this substance need to check their potential obligations that result from the listing. For more information on obligations click here.


Lise Møller
+ 45 4516 9133

Have you pre-registered your substances?

The first REACH registration deadline is on 30 November 2010. ECHA has sent an e-mail to all the companies that have indicated their intention to register at least one substance before this deadline.

The purpose of this survey is to help ECHA identify the substances of which industry cannot confirm that a SIEF (Substance Information Exchange Forum) is in operation. Companies are being asked to provide information on registrations of such substances they still intend to make before the deadline. In addition, ECHA will use the information to improve the services it offers to registrants.


Jens Tørsløv
+ 45 4516 9022

Danish national action plan on chemicals 2010-2013

In March 2010 the Danish Government launched its national action plan on chemicals for the next four-year-period.

Some of the key priorities for 2010-2013 are:

  • Control and supervision of chemicals will be increased by 50%. This is partly the result of REACH and CLP, the new system for classification and labelling of chemicals. Special attention will be given to products and sectors constituting a particular risk.
  • Specific focus on consumer products including an increase in media campaigns aimed at consumers. In particular, products imported from non-EU countries will be of interest.
  • The use of non-test methods (i.e. data based on computer modelling instead of animal testing) will be increased considerably.
  • An EU-wide authorisation scheme for biocidal products is in the pipeline. In Denmark the biocidal directive will cover 23 product groups or approx 2,000 products. A large number of these products has not previously been subject to approval.

For more details (in Danish) read the action plan on chemicals here. The action plan is not available in English.


Peter Kortegaard
+45 4516 9049



EFSA cooperation on non-plastic food contact materials

An EFSA working group has been created in order to gather and analyze information on the safety of non-plastic food contact materials.

This follows a number of incidents in recent years in which certain substances used in non-plastic food contact materials (such as inks and adhesives) have been found to migrate into foods. Whilst EU rules specify that all materials coming into contact with foods must be safe, many non-plastic components of food contact materials - unlike plastic materials - are not subject to specific provisions at the European level.

The working group is composed of experts from the EU Member States as well as members of EFSA’s scientific panel.

The group aims to present a report by the end of March 2011.


Eva Høy Engelund
+45 4516 9096

More mycotoxins as a result of fungicides

Mycotoxins are toxins produced by fungi in crops, fruits, vegetables, etc. To control the mycotoxins, conventional products are treated with fungicides. However, scientists are no longer sure that the conventional products are free from mycotoxins. Although the use of fungicides controls the number of fungi it does not necessarily reduce the amount of mycotoxins.

Fungicides causes disorder in natural mechanisms
Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark report that this effect has been observed in connection with the fungicide Amistar used on Fusarium fungi in crops resulting in an increase in mycotoxins. In addition, researchers discovered that when adding the fungicide ‘Rose bengal’ to certain types of substrates the fungi produced a larger amount of diverse mycotoxins and metabolites. This indicates that fungicides cause disorder in the fungi’s natural mechanisms.

Fusarium fungi infect for instance cereal crops, potatoes and many kinds of fruits and vegetables. As a result the Fusarium toxins may end up in the food chain and result in damaged crops, organ injuries in domestic animals and allergy in humans.

The cocktail effect
In relation to mycotoxins scientists are talking about the so-called cocktail effect. Instead of focusing on single toxins more attention should be paid to the cocktail effect, i.e. the effects of several toxins occurring simultaneously or jointly with other environmental toxins.

This summer the Technical University of Denmark will host a workshop on mycotoxins arranged by The Society for Mycotoxin Research. Read more on the workshop’s homepage.


Helle Buchardt Boyd
+45 4516 9097

Wines containing carcinogenic toxins from mould fungus

Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have discovered that a surprising number of wines contain carcinogenic toxins from the mould fungus Aspergillus niger.

An analysis of the genes of A. niger showed that the mould fungus is capable of forming fumonisins, a group of mycotoxins until now only known from the mould fungus Fusarium. A screening of 80 bottles of wine from all over the world showed the presence of fumonisins in 25% of the wines.

After this extraordinary discovery researchers at DTU will take a closer look at the limit values of fumonisins in wine. Next the researches will screen raisins for these toxins. Aspergillus niger can grow on grapes, coffee beans and peanuts.

The findings of toxins in wine were reported in the March issue of DTUAvisen (in Danish).


Helle Buchardt Boyd
+45 4516 9097

New toxins in European shellfish - a result of climate change?

Marine biotoxins usually living in tropical and subtropical areas have recently been reported in four European countries: France, Greece, Italy, and Spain. The biotoxins are associated with human cases of runny noses, mild shortness of breath, cough and fever after bathing in water with blooming algae.

The emerging blooms of new algae contain the potential food toxins Palytoxins which might infest the digestive gland of filterfeeding molluscan shellfish such as mussels, oysters, cockles, clams and scallops. Symptoms after consumption of palytoxin-contaminated shellfish are not well-defined, but include muscle pain and weakness, possibly accompanied by fever, nausea and vomiting. Fatalities appear to be rare but have occurred.

Palytoxin (PlTX)-group toxins are marine biotoxins which have mainly been detected in marine soft corals of the genus Palythoa and benthic dinoflagellates of the genus Ostreopsis. It is blooms of the latter that has recently been reported in Europe.

Scientific Opinion on marine palytoxins in shellfish
EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, has recently published a Scientific Opinion on palytoxin group biotoxins in shellfish. Due to lack of chronic data EFSA’s scientific panel was only able to derive an oral acute reference dose (ARfD) of 0.2 µg/kg b.w. for the sum of PlTX and its analogue ostreocin-D. In order for a 60 kg adult to avoid exceeding the ARfD a 400 g portion of shellfish meat should not contain more than 12 µg of the sum of PlTX and ostreocin-D, corresponding to 30 µg/kg shellfish meat.

EFSA’s report includes discussion on methods of analysis of Palytoxins. Click here for more in-depth information.


Ann Detmer
+45 4516 9103



Joint European action on NANOGENOTOX

At DHI we have participated in several projects within nanotoxicology and we are following the latest development in this area. You can also follow this area in EU on the CORDIS website and you will find an overview of EU projects up to 2008 here.

In March 2010, AFSSET (the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) organized the launch of NANOGENOTOX. The aim of this 3-year-programme is to provide the European Commission with an alternative robust and reliable method for the detection of the genotoxic potential of nanomaterials causing a risk of cancer or reprotoxicity in humans.

A total of 14 manufactured nanomaterials will be tested. The 14 nanomaterials are classed in 3
groups: titanium dioxide, silica and carbon nanotubes. 

NANOGENOTOX contains several steps:

  • Physico-chemical characterisation of the 14 nanomaterials to be tested
  • Knowing the distribution of the nanomaterials in vivo: toxico-kinetic
  • Performing genotoxicity tests in vivo, and comparing with the in vitro tests realized on cell lines adapted to the exposure route.

The project is coordinated by AFSSET. Thirteen member states (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom) are involved and 18 research and expertise organisations in these countries share the work.

The work conducted for NANOGENOTOX will consolidate other international initiatives, like the initiatives made by OECD and ISO TC 229.


Estelle Giovalle
+33 2 4048 4040

Combination study presented at Society of Toxicology (SOT)

Danisco has developed a new alternative plasticiser, GRINDSTED® SOFT-N-SAFE, which was tested in a combination study.

The combination study was based on OECD Test Guidelines 416 and 426. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the potential effects upon the reproduction and developmental process with emphasis on developmental neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption. The study was planned with and performed at the contract research organisation Harlan in collaboration with DHI. At this stage preliminary data obtained in this study show no reproductive or hormone disrupting effects. As the plasticiser has shown no significant toxicity to either adults or offspring it makes it a relevant substitute for existing phthalates.

In March 2010, DHI, Danisco and the contract research laboratory Harlan together presented a poster on the test at the annual meeting of SOT, the Society of Toxicology in Utah, USA.  This annual meeting is the world’s largest toxicological conference and this year around 6,500 participants from all over the world attended the event.  The poster presented by DHI, Danisco and Harlan described the latest results from the combination study on the GRINDSTED® SOFT-N-SAFE plasticiser investigating possible reproductive and endocrine effects. See the abstract here.

New generation plasticiser
Danisco, which is a world leader in food ingredients and enzymes, developed the new generation plasticiser because of on an urgent need for alternative plasticisers to substitute phthalate-based plasticisers. The plasticiser is a fully acetylated monoglyceride based on castor oil. At this stage the plasticiser does not show adverse effects. In the ongoing registration of GRINDSTED® SOFT-N-SAFE, DHI is responsible for planning and monitoring the testing programme as well as toxicological and ecotoxicological risk assessment in accordance with the REACH regulation.


Brian Svend Nielsen
+45 4516 9140

Potting soil may cause Legionella

It is possible to be infected with Legionnaires’ disease not only from water droplets. Recent outbreaks in Scotland have verified potting plants using commercially available bags of compost and potting mix to be a risk factor for contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

Infections like this are well known in Australia and New Zealand.  On their homepage, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service as well as other public health services in Australia and New Zealand offers the following advice on how to minimise the risk of contracting legionellosis:

  • Take care when dealing with compost, potting mix and any form of soil or dirt. Read the warning labels on commercially available bags of compost and potting mix.
  • To minimise risk, avoid stirring up dust, avoid inhaling dust, dampen the soil/compost before use, and wear a dust mask that fits tightly over nose and mouth.

As the Scottish cases indicate, these recommendations may nowadays also be valid in Europe including labelling on bags of compost and potting mix.

For more information read here:


Ann Detmer
+45 4516 9103

Master's Course in Toxicology in Denmark

In April 14 participants began on a Master’s Course in Toxicology at the University of Copenhagen, the first of its kind in Denmark.

The course is offered by the University of Copenhagen in cooperation with the Technical University of Denmark and DHI’s Centre for Environment and Toxicology. Read more about the Master’s Course here.

To obtain a Master in Toxicology you must collect 60 ECTS-credits. Compulsory subjects make up 25 credits. Remaining credits can be obtained from relevant courses, eg statistics, epidemiology, pathology, etc. Courses and master plan must be approved by the study board at the University of Copenhagen. It is possible to sign up for the master’s course at any time.


Anders Permin

+45 4516 9173

Courses and workshops


Phytoplankton Pigment Analysis Workshop

Are you interested in learning more about phytoplankton pigment analyses by HPLC?

In late 2010 DHI arranges a 2-day workshop where the many aspects of pigment analysis will be discussed, e.g. filtration of samples, extraction, choice of HPLC method, calibration, quality assurance, reporting results, calculation of phytoplankton composition and biomass, future potentials for the method and any other issues you may want to raise!

For more information on the workshop and registration read here.


Louise Schlüter
+45 4516 9557

Mini-seminar: When hazardous waste is also dangerous goods

Our Danish readers might be interested in a mini-seminar on hazardous waste and dangerous goods which DHI hosts on 17 June.

Read more here (in Danish).


Lisbeth Schomacker
+45 4516 9083


Centre for Environment and Toxicology

Agern Allé 5
2970 Hørsholm

Tel: +45 4516 9200.
Fax: +45 4516 9292

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