Development of a mechanism for the rapid risk assessment of cross-border chemical health threats

Charlotte Hague, Rob Orford, Tom Gaulton, Eirian Thomas, Lisbeth Hall, Raquel Duarte-Davidson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Chemical incidents can result in harm to public health and the environment. Although most are localised and have little impact, some affect wide areas, a range of sectors and may lead to many casualties. A public health response to assess the risks and provide advice to authorities and the public is usually required. In some cases, incidents may affect more than one country and require effective cross-border communication and coordination. 

Objective: We describe tools and mechanisms to improve health security from cross-border chemical health threats and to support the implementation of the Decision of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) on serious cross-border threats to health (Decision 1082/2013/EU). 

Methods: Experts were recruited to a network and their suitability was assessed by using a skills framework. Input by relevant stakeholders such as the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, followed by EU-wide exercises, ensured that tools developed were fit for purpose. 

Results: A network of public health risk assessors and a methodology for providing rapid independent expert public health advice during a chemical emergency have been developed. 

Significance: We discuss the legacy of these mechanisms including their incorporation into the working arrangements for the EU Scientific Committee for Health, Environment and Emerging Risks and future developments in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)876-886
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number5
Early online date14 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors would like to thank the European Commission for funding the project ECHEMNET [20121101] under the framework of the Health Programme.

Open Access: No Open Access licence.

Publisher Copyright: © 2021, Crown.

Citation: Hague, C., Orford, R., Gaulton, T. et al. Development of a mechanism for the rapid risk assessment of cross-border chemical health threats. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 31, 876–886 (2021).



  • Assessment
  • Chemicals
  • Communication
  • Cross-border
  • Incidents
  • Public health
  • Response
  • Serious


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