Consumer exposure modelling under REACH: Assessing the defaults
Consumer exposure to chemicals from products and articles is rarely monitored. Since an assessment of consumer exposure has become particularly important under the European REACH Regulation, dedicated modelling approaches with exposure assessment tools are applied. The results of these tools are critically dependent on the default input values embedded in the tools. These inputs were therefore compiled for three lower tier tools (ECETOC TRA (version 3.0), EGRET and REACT)) and benchmarked against a higher tier tool (ConsExpo (version 4.1)). Mostly, conservative input values are used in the lower tier tools. Some cases were identified where the lower tier tools used less conservative values than ConsExpo. However, these deviations only rarely resulted in less conservative exposure estimates compared to ConsExpo, when tested in reference scenarios. This finding is mainly due to the conservatism of (a) the default value for the thickness of the product layer (with complete release of the substance) used for the prediction of dermal exposure and (b) the complete release assumed for volatile substances (i.e. substances with a vapour pressure ⩾10 Pa) for inhalation exposure estimates. The examples demonstrate that care must be taken when changing critical defaults in order to retain conservative estimates of consumer exposure to chemicals.