Although lead and lead compounds are some of the most studied substances in commerce, since 2000 the lead industry through the Lead REACH Consortium has invested in excess of €3 million in independent research into the health and environmental impacts of lead.
Industry sponsored scientific research has been fundamental in enhancing the understanding of the risks to human health and the environment presented by exposure to lead and has been used extensively in documents, such as the EU Voluntary Risk Assessment and the REACH Chemical Safety Report.
Recent highlights of the research programme sponsored by the Lead REACH Consortium include:
SPHERL: Study for Promotion of Health in Recycling Lead
SPHERL is a major, innovative epidemiology study on the effects of occupational exposure of lead. This unique longitudinal medical surveillance study followed 500 new hires over a 2-year period, assessing changes to blood pressure, renal function, peripheral nerve conductivity, neurocognitive performance and general quality of life as a function of exposure as measured by blood lead levels. The project has resulted in more than 10 peer reviewed publications and has demonstrated no adverse effects on key cardiovascular, neurological, or renal health outcomes as mean blood lead levels increased 4-fold from background (non-occupationally exposed) concentrations. Further details of the study can be found on ClinicalTrials.gov.
Study investigating the chronic toxicity of the soluble lead ion to L. stagnalis, carried out according to the OECD 243 protocol, performed under standardised conditions more applicable to classification under CLP.
Biotic ligand models
The completion of many new studies on the environmental fate and effect of lead and the development of biotic ligand models to predict more accurately the toxicity of lead to freshwater species under different environmental conditions. This research has been published by partners in peer reviewed scientific journals to ensure that findings are shared with all stakeholders (including the scientific and regulatory communities) and has been used to extensively update risk assessments presented in Chemical Safety Reports of REACH registration dossiers of lead metal and compounds.
MEED: Metals Environmental Exposure Data
The Pb REACH Consortium is Sponsor of MEED, a three-year multi-metallic programme on metal environmental exposures covering six interlinked projects designed to improve knowledge relating to regional exposures, sewage treatment plants (STPs), ecorelevance, and mixture effects, combined toxicity and the Mixture Assessment Factor (MAF).
The Lead REACH Consortium continues to assess research necessary to ensure that its REACH Registration dossiers remain the most up to date resource of health and environmental effects of lead metal and compounds. Future work will include a review of available information on possible endocrine activity of lead from in vitro and in vivo mechanistic assays on mammalian (human health) and non-mammalian (environment), in light of the new hazard classes in the CLP Regulation and anticipated changes to REACH information requirements.