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Critical Review of "Metals Environmental Risk Assessment Guidance for Metals" (MERAG)

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Risk assessment of metals may need specific guidance in how to handle natural background, essentiality, and long historical use of metals. It may also be necessary to take bio-availability into account. The aim of the present project was to critically review proposals on principles for risk assessment of metals (MERAG), developed by the metals industry, in co-operation with the UK Government during 2005-2006. The different MERAG proposals were reviewed by different Nordic consultancies, and their views are summarised in the report. The project was initiated and coordinated by the Nordic Risk Assessment Project (NORAP), which receives funding from the Nordic Chemicals group, a subgroup to the Nordic Council of Ministers. This review was considered urgent, in order to be prepared for a possible proposal to implement the MERAG principles within the Technical Guidance Document on Chemical Safety Assessment, which is developed for use under the REACH regulation.

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Introduction

The MERAG (Metals Environmental Risk Assessment Guidance) program was initiated by the metals industry represented by Eurometaux (European non-ferrous metals industry) and ICMM (International Council for Mining and Metals), and aims to “provide the regulatory community at regional and international level with scientific and regulatory guidance on the most advanced status of environmental Risk Assessment concepts for metals”. The program achieved managerial and review sponsorship by UK-DEFRA (i.e. the environment ministry in United Kingdom). Regulatory representatives from several other countries including Netherlands, USA, Canada and Italy provided additional technical guidance and review. The outcome of the project was discussed at an open workshop in London (May 2005), with participants from EU, USA and Canada representing industry, regulatory bodies and independent scientists.

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