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

1 Citation (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
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

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

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The views expressed in this article are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of Public Health England and other partner organisations. We would like to thank all of the collaborating partners and organisations, who are too many to name here, who provided their time and expertise in the development of the project outputs. We give particular thanks to the ECHEMNET project team: Andreas Schaper from GIZ-Nord Poisons Centre, University Medical Center Göttingen Georg August Universität, Germany, Jolanda Roelofs and Pepijn Morgenstern from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Centre for Environmental Safety and Security, the Netherlands, Ann Göransson Nyberg, Elisabeth Wigenstam and Jiri Trnka of the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), CBRN Defence and Security, Sweden, and María del Carmen García Cazalilla and Jesus Ocaña García-Donas from Empresa Pública de Emergencias Sanitarias (EPES), Healthcare Delivery Management Department, Spain.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Crown.


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


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