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Challenges of using big data in chemicals regulations to be probed at upcoming forum


Helsinki, Finland – The use of big data holds great promise for regulators and industry alike in the world’s chemicals sector. In the past decade or so, regulations on chemicals control have generated huge amounts of data for international authorities on the properties and effects of chemicals and chemical products. Some of these regulations include REACH in the European Union, a soon-to-be reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the US, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry, among others.

The global access to data on chemicals and data sharing offers many advantages such as facilitating the global trade in chemicals, improvements in general chemicals safety, harmonization of testing methods and templates, as well as reducing the workload for industry and regulators in assessing hazardous chemicals.

But challenging questions must be addressed as well, such as how to best understand and use the data, how to ensure that the rights of data providers are recognized, and how to promote synergies between regulators worldwide? Finally, from the point of view of industry, do the opportunities only benefit global chemical companies?

These questions and more will be probed in the upcoming Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF), a global think tank that takes place in Helsinki on May 26 and 27.

The event is a key gathering for chemicals safety professionals, and an independent forum that aims to promote chemicals safety and chemicals management globally. The two-day event is built around high-profile panels and keynote presentations as well as related debates.

Another topic that will be probed at HCF is a look at the impact of a circular economy on chemicals regulation. A circular economy aims to save resources and dramatically reduce the environmental load and waste volumes. Other panels will examine issues surrounding perfluorinated chemicals including the drafting of a global agreement to regulate this hazardous class of chemicals, and a look at current standards of plant safety in the chemical industry.

HCF’s program has been prepared by an international committee that represents the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Environment Canada, the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL, a major global NGO) and Chemical Watch (a leading news service in the field).

The whole program is available at http://www.helsinkicf.eu/programme.