Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Ecotoxicological Characterisation and Classification of Existing Chemicals

Examples from the ICCA HPV Initiative and comparison with other existing chemicals

  • 1038 Accesses

  • 7 Citations


Goal, Scope and Background

In 1998, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) launched a global initiative to investigate more than 1,000 HPV chemicals (High Production Volume, ≥ 1,000 t/a) within the refocused OECD HPV Chemicals Programme. Up to the OECD SIDS Initial Assessment Meeting in April 2004 (SIAM 18) 147 ICCA dossiers (ca. 230 CAS-No) have been assessed based on a harmonised data set. The environmental profile and an ecotoxicological characterisation of these chemicals are presented here. Data for acute aquatic toxicity were correlated among each other, as well as data for fish (LC50, LD50) and rodents (LD50). The data for acute aquatic toxicity are compared with other existing chemicals.


Data of the ICCA HPV chemicals from the OECD SIAM 11-18 are presented for: log Kow (as an indicator for bioaccumulation potential), biodegradation, acute aquatic toxicity and availability of long-term toxicity data. Correlation analysis was performed with log transformed data and a linear regression model was fitted to the data, if a significant correlation was found. Acute toxicity for fish and acute oral toxicity for rodents were correlated on a molar basis. Acute aquatic toxicity of the chemicals is compared with data from BUA reports 1-234 and a random EINECS sample (Knacker et al. 1995)

Results and Discussion

According to the dossier information 71 of the 147 ICCA chemicals are not ‘readily biodegradable’, 21 have a log Kow ≥ 3, and 44 are ‘toxic’ (LC/EC50 ≤ 10 mg/L) or ‘very toxic’ (LC/EC50 ≤ 1 mg/L) to aquatic organisms. For 77, only the base set (acute fish,Daphnia and algae) is available, for the rest at least one long-term test (fish orDaphnia) is available and three tests for a mere 14 others. Based on the data presented, the SIAM gives recommendations for Environment and Human Health. 22 chemicals have been identified as a ‘candidate for further work’ for Environment and 16 for Human Health. The highest correlation coefficient was obtained correlating fish andDaphnia (r2 = 0.79). LC50 (fish) is significantly correlated with LD50 (rodent), but data are widely scattered. The correlation is not improved after transforming LC50 (fish) to LD50 (fish), using BCF QSAR. Based on acute aquatic toxicity, 25.1% of the chemicals from the BUA reports 1-234 are classified as ‘very toxic’ (LC/EC50 ≤ 1 mg/L). This proportion is 2.5-fold higher than the ICCA HPV chemicals and 1.4-fold higher than the random EINECS sample


Correlation coefficients for aquatic toxicity data are rather uniform (0.57-0.79) compared with literature data, but also the best correlation was observed between fish andDaphnia. Because the scatter around the regression lines is still considerable, simple predictions of ecotoxicity between species are not possible. Correlation of LC50 (fish) and LD50 (rodent) indicates that toxicity is different. Surprisingly, the correlation of fish and rodent toxicity is not improved by transforming LC50 values to internal LD50s. The selection of ICCA chemicals by market significance (production volume) leads to a classification of toxicity, which is more comparable to a random sample of EINECS chemicals than to German BUA chemicals. The latter were chosen for concern (for Environment or Human Health)

Recommendations and Outlook

Of 147 dossiers assessed between SIAM 11-18, ca. 75% were sponsored by the three following countries: Germany (42), USA (37) and Japan (33). The current output is about 50 dossiers per year (70-100 CAS-No), but a trend for an increase of output is noticeable. Industry, national authorities, and OECD work on a further development to speed up the output. The number of chemicals with ‘low priority for further work’ and the work recommended for the ‘candidates’ (mainly exposure assessment) indicate that the data presented were adequate for an initial hazard assessment according to OECD requirements. From the ICCA HPV list (n = 880, state of 1999) 44% of the chemicals have data available to cover all SIDS endpoints for Environment and only 33% for Human Health (Allanou et al. 1999). This indicates the importance of the Initiative to provide information on existing chemicals. The authors agree with the expectation “...that the scientific information provided by this global initiative will be considered as an internationally accepted and harmonised basis for further steps of chemicals management.” (ICCA 2002 b).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ahlers J, Diderich R, Klaschka U, Marschner A, Schwarz-Schulz B (1994): Environmental risk assessment of existing chemicals. ESPR - Environ Sci & Pollut Res 1 (2) 117–123

  2. Allanou R, Hansen BG, van der Bilt Y (1999): Public availability of data on EU HPV chemicals. EU Commission, ECB, EUR 18996EN, 24 pp

  3. Bachmann J (2002): Entwicklung und Erprobung eines Terato- genitäts-Screening Testes mit Embryonen des ZebrabärblingsDanio rerio. PhD Thesis, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden, Germany, 249 pp (in German)

  4. BUA (1996): Existing chemicals of environmental relevance III: Priority setting and classified existing chemicals of the third priority list. Ed. by the GDCh Advisory committee on existing chemicals of environmental relevance (BUA). Hirzel, Wiss. Verl.- Ges. Stuttgart, Germany, 119 pp

  5. BUA (1999): Assessment of existing chemicals: A contribution towards improving chemical safety. Ed. by H. Behret and J. Koppenhöfer, Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 83 pp

  6. ChemG (Chemikalien Gesetz) (2003): Gesetz zum Schutz vor gefährlichen Stoffen. Stand: Neugefasst durch Bek. v. 20. 6.2002 I 2090; geändert durch Art. 183 V v. 25.11.2003 I 2304 (in German)

  7. CEFIC (2001): Our voluntary ICCA HPV Initiative. Confidence in chemicals, Newsletter 3 (January 2001), European Chemical Industry Council, Brussels, Belgium, 4 pp

  8. ECB (2003 a): Existing chemicals: the priority lists. Online available at: existing-chemicals/

  9. ECB (2003 b): Technical guidance document on risk assessment (TGD) in support of the commission directive 93/67/EEC on risk assessment for new notified substances, the commission regulation (EC) 1488/94 on risk assessment for existing substances and the directive 98/8/EC of the European parliament and of the council concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market. 2nd Edition, Ispra, Italy, online available at: tgdoc

  10. ECB (2004): Existing Substances: further news on the Risk Assessment. 15th ECB Newsletter from 31.03.2004. Online available at:

  11. ECETOC (2003): Aquatic hazard assessment II. Technical report No. 91. European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals, Brussels, Belgium, 164 pp

  12. EU (1993): Council regulation 793/93/EEC of March 1993 on the evaluation and control of the risks of existing substances. Off J Eur Communities L78/1

  13. Friederichs M, Fränzle O, Salski A (1996): Fuzzy clustering of existing chemicals according to their ecotoxicological properties. Ecol Model 85, 27–40

  14. Greim H, Ahlers J, Bias R, Broecker B, Gamer AO, Gelbke HP, Haltrich WG, Klimisch HJ, Mangelsdorf I, Schön N, Stropp G, Vogel D, Welter G, Bayer E (1993): Priority setting for the evaluation of existing chemicals: the approach of the German advisory committee on existing chemicals of environmental relevance (BUA). Chemosphere 26(9), 1653–1666

  15. Hansen BG (2001): Untitled comment in: CEFIC (2001): Our voluntary ICCA HPV Initiative. Confidence in chemicals, Newsletter 3 (January 2001), European Chemical Industry Council, Brussels, Belgium, 4 pp

  16. Hansen BG, van Haelst A, van Leeuwen K, vander Zandt P (1999): Priority setting for existing chemicals: European union risk ranking method. Environ Toxicol Chem 18 (4) 772–779

  17. ICCA (2000): Responsible Care Status Report 2000. International Council of Chemical Associations, Brussels, Belgium, 66 pp

  18. ICCA (2002 a): The ICCA HPV Chemicals Initiative. What we set out to achieve and how it works. Leaflet from April 2002, International Council of Chemical Associations, Brussels, Belgium, 2 pp

  19. ICCA (2002 b): Industry as a partner for sustainable development - Chemicals. Online available at:

  20. Knacker T, Schallnaß HJ, Klaschka U, Ahlers J (1995): Application of the criteria for classification of existing chemicals as dangerous for the environment. ESPR - Environ Sci & Pollut Res 2 (3) 179–187

  21. LeBlanc GA (1984): Interspecies relationships in acute aquatic tox- iciry of chemicals to aquatic organisms. Environ Toxicol Chem 3, 47–60

  22. Licht O, Weyers A, Widmann K, Nagel R, Zellner R, Greim H (2004): OECD ‘candidates for further work’ from the ICCA HPV Initiative: What kind of work has been recommended? SETAC-Europe 2004, Environmental Science Solutions: A Pan- European Perspective, Abstract book, WEPO10/001, 266

  23. OECD (2001 a): OECD Environmental outlook for the Chemicals Industry. OECD, Paris, France, 168 pp

  24. OECD (2001 b): The 2000OECD List of High Production Volume Chemicals. OECD, Paris, France, 154 pp

  25. OECD (2003): Guidance Document on Reporting Summary Information on Environmental, Occupational and Consumer Exposure. OECD, Paris, France, 66 pp

  26. OECD (2004): Manual for Investigation of HPV Chemicals. OECD Secretariat, April 2004. Online available at: http://www.

  27. Van Leeuwen CJ, Bro-Rasmussen F, Feijtel T C J, Arndt R, Bussian BM, Calamari D, Glynn P, Grandy NJ, Hansen B, Van Hemmen JJ, Hurst P, King N, Koch R, Müller M, Solbe JF, Speijers G, Vermeire T (1996): Risk assessment and management of new and existing chemicals. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol 2 (4) 243–299

  28. VCI (2001): Vielversprechender Start des ICCA-Prüfprogramms für Großstoffe, chemie report 1/2, 20 (in German)

  29. VCI (2003): Fakten, Analysen, Perspektiven Chemie 2003. Jahresbericht 2003, 64 pp (in German)

  30. Weyers A, Sokull-Klüttgen B, Baraibar-Fentanes J, Vollmer G (2000): Acute toxicity data: A comprehensive comparison of results of fish,Daphnia, and algae tests with new substances notified in the European Union. Environ Toxicol Chem 19 (7) 1931–1933

  31. Williams DE, Bailey GS, Reddy A, Hendricks JD, Oganesian A, Orner GA, Pereira CB, Swenberg JA (2003): The rainbow trout(Oncorhynchus mykiss) tumor model: recent applications in low-dose exposures to tumor initiators and promoters. Toxicol Pathol 31 (Suppl) 58–61

  32. Zar J (1999): Biostatistical Analysis. 4th Edition. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA, 931 pp

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Oliver Licht or Arnd Weyers or Roland Nagel.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Licht, O., Weyers, A. & Nagel, R. Ecotoxicological Characterisation and Classification of Existing Chemicals. Environ Sci & Pollut Res 11, 291 (2004).

Download citation


  • Acute toxicity
  • chemicals regulation
  • ecotoxicology
  • existing chemicals
  • ICCA
  • high production volume
  • hazard assessment
  • OECD