30 May 2024

Exploring Factors that Challenge or Enable the Uptake and Use of High Quality, Reliable and Peer-Reviewed Academic Data in European Chemical Assessment

Lowenna Jones, University of Sheffield

Following the SETAC Europe 34th Annual Meeting, "Science-based Solutions in Times of Crisis: Integrating Science and Policy for Environmental Challenges," we would like to invite you to complete a survey and provide your expert opinion on the uptake and use of academic (i.e., peer-reviewed) science in chemical assessment and management across Europe.

Readers, SETAC members and interested stakeholders who consider their work relevant to European (UK or EU) chemical assessment, regulation and policy are encouraged to fill out the survey. This includes individuals from academia, consultancy, government and industry, as well as those that work within the regulatory toxicology system. Prior interaction with regulators or decision-makers is not a requirement for participation. The survey will be open until 1 July.

What role does academic research play in the development of an evidence based approach to European chemical assessment and management?

The need for a modern, evidence-based approach to chemical safety assessment and management is an emerging topic of research and conversation in regulatory toxicology. Academic (i.e., peer-reviewed) research is one of the many sources of evidence that inform European regulatory and policy-making decisions. For chemical substances, major pieces of EU law set out the requirement for the use of all available (or relevant) evidence (i.e., peer-reviewed and grey literature, scientific and industry reports). These include the EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) regulations, as well as product-specific regulations on plant protection products (i.e., PPPR), and cosmetics (i.e., CPR). However in practice, academic studies are rarely used in regulatory and policy decision making. Possible reasons why academic data are rarely used and included in the safety assessments of chemicals include the high resource demands to search and maintain abreast of the literature, use of non-standard toxicity tests, failure to align with standardized guidelines (e.g., OECD test guidelines), and the historical inaccessibility of data.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in attention on the “who” and “what” of chemical evidence in regulatory and policy decision-making. This explores issues of who is undertaking regulatory assessments (i.e., academics, industry, GLP laboratories) and thus providing knowledge (i.e., on chemical safety or hazard), and what data (i.e., non-standard or standard toxicity tests and endpoints, peer-reviewed toxicity and ecotoxicity studies, new approach methodologies) are considered relevant for decision-making processes. However, little attention has been paid to “how” high-quality and reliable academic data is taken up or used as evidence in chemical assessment and management, and what factors, barriers and enablers challenge or enable its use.

Surveying perceptions on the uptake and use of academic data in chemical assessment and management and exploring the factors, barriers and enablers that challenge or support its use.

As described above, high-quality, reliable, peer-reviewed academic research is seldom used in the assessment and management of chemical risk. As a result, a small group of interested academics from the Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use (ECORISC) Centre for Doctoral Training, led by Lowenna Jones, University of Sheffield, have developed a survey to assess stakeholders’ opinions on the uptake and use of academic research as evidence in chemical assessment and management across Europe and to explore the system level factors, barriers and enablers that challenge or support its use.

The survey comprises 12 questions in total and is designed to take no more than 10 minutes to complete. The survey asks for participant opinion on the uptake and use of different forms of evidence in chemical assessment and management, before exploring the system-level factors, barriers and enablers that challenge or support the use of academic data in regulatory and decision-making processes. Your detailed response and elaboration in the optional free-text questions will greatly aid the research team in understanding the factors, barriers and enablers in more detail and with specific examples. All information collected in the survey remains anonymous and strictly confidential, with no personally identifiable information collected as part of the survey. Data collected from the survey will form the basis of a peer-reviewed publication.

You can access the survey here or by scanning the QR code below.


Author’s contact: [email protected]