Press release: European partnership PARC aims to protect human health from the harmful effects of chemical substances.

Representatives of the European Commission and national ministries for research, health, and environment met in Paris to launch the PARC project – the Partnership for the Assessment of Risk from Chemicals. Following two years of intense preparations, this important pan-European project, supported by the Horizon Europe Framework program (2021-2027) with a grant of €400 million, has begun.

13 May 2022

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The sizable funding is evidence that protecting the health of the environment and population from the effects of toxic substances in the external and internal environment, water, food, and products is a high priority for the European Union and its Member States. "The global health, economic, and energy crises of recent years, coupled with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, cannot push the problem of chemical exposures into the background," says Jana Klánová, Director of the RECETOX center at Masaryk University. "On the contrary, they highlight, to a greater extent, the need for a conceptual solution, as the search for alternative energy sources, and similarly accidents leading to large-scale toxic spills during war have environmental consequences. The health of the environment and human populations are linked: environmental stressors reduce the population's resilience to future health threats."

In recent years, scientists, politicians, and the public have increasingly called for better regulation of harmful substances. The risks associated with chemicals, increasing urbanization, and climate change have been identified as crucial factors in the developing global crisis. The Zero Pollution Ambition has become a central objective of the European Green Deal and is reflected in the new European Chemical Strategy for Sustainability. These strategic priorities require next-generation methods and data for identifying hazardous substances, transparent dialogue, and close collaboration between the scientific community, industry, politicians, and the public to change legislation and protect the health of future generations; this is precisely what PARC will deliver. Over the next seven years, PARC, coordinated by the French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), will bring together 200 national agencies and research institutes dedicated to researching and regulating chemicals, environmental, and health risks.

More than €12 million of the budget is earmarked for improving the analysis and prevention of chemical risks in the Czech Republic. A national consortium led by Masaryk University's RECETOX center will aim to strengthen the link between basic and applied research and environmental and health legislation and practice. This will be achieved with the support of the Ministry of Education (as a member of the PARC Executive Board) and four other universities (Masaryk University, the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, University of Ostrava, and University of Chemistry and Technology Prague), but also the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) and Institute of Health Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic. The National Centre for Toxic Substances (a joint venture of the Ministry of the Environment and Masaryk University) will play an essential role. Its Board is composed of representatives of relevant ministries, industry associations, and, through non-governmental organizations, the public.

The RECETOX Research Centre at Masaryk University has been dealing with the environmental and health risks related to chemicals for almost 40 years. In PARC, RECETOX will share its professional expertise and the capacity of the RECETOX RI research infrastructure and the National Center for Toxic Substances. In the project, RECETOX leads a work package that coordinates the technical and human capacity needed for chemical risk assessment in Europe, linking PARC to the future European research infrastructure EIRENE, coordinated by RECETOX.

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