ConsExpo: international collaboration for bringing exposure software up to date
The ConsExpo program, developed by RIVM, calculates consumers’ exposure to chemical substances when using consumer products such as cleaning products and personal care products. The current ConsExpo version (from 2004) does not always work under currently used operating systems, such as Windows 7. Knowledge concerning consumer exposure estimates has also increased significantly. Because ConsExpo is a program that is appreciated and used worldwide, it was required to be brought up to date. In 2015, a start was made with this in collaboration with international partners that contribute to the project, both financially and in kind.
European golden standard for consumer exposure
ConsExpo consists of software and fact sheets. The software includes various models to calculate exposure to substances in consumer products. The route of exposure how consumers come into contact with the substance, is also taken into account. Consumer products concerned include paint, personal care products, cleaning products, pest control agents, toys and DIY products. Routes of exposure include the skin (such as through suntan lotions), mouth (e.g. children sucking toys) and lungs (e.g. inhaling hairspray). In addition to models, ConsExpo also includes a database with standard values for exposure parameters such as the frequency of use and the amount of product used. These are recorded in the fact sheets. In Europe, ConsExpo is considered the ‘golden standard’ for consumer exposure, and it is also used abroad, in Canada and Australia for instance.
A considerable investment in time and money is required to make ConsExpo suitable for current operating systems and to process the current knowledge of consumer exposure estimates. A new method of collaboration was initiated for this: in conjunction with four foreign institutes from Canada, Germany, France and Switzerland (Health Canada, BfR, ANSES and BAG, respectively), a project was started in which they contribute to the development of the new version, both financially and in kind. This new version will be publicly accessible, yet the contents focus on exposure experts and knowledge about exposure is required for its proper use. Users will be asked to register for the purpose of monitoring which parts are consulted most frequently, and from which country.