Update of the Progress

Biocides are a specific group of chemicals used in the treatment of damaging biological growth. However, not only do they kill pathogens, they also kill non-pathogens, meaning they may have undesirable side effects harming human health and/or the environment.

The use of non-animal alternative test methods has been foreseen in the Biocides Product Regulation, Regulation (EU) 258/2012 (BPR). The widespread use of non-testing methods (NTM) would help SMEs identifying, amongst other, the so called metabolites of ecotoxicological concern whereas facilitating the approval of biocidal active substances within the BPR and reducing animal testing.

Chemoinformatics, consists in the ensemble of computational tools for the management of chemical information in order to generate knowledge from data, thus facilitating faster and better decisions. Usual chemoinformatic tasks include the transformation of chemical information into numerical data and the consequent application of mathematical methods to infer chemical knowledge related to the similarity/diversity of compounds, or the predictions of physicochemical, pharmacokinetic and/or toxicological properties.

The LIFE-COMBASE Project promotes the sustainable use of biocidal active substances from a life cycle perspective by means of computational tools.

Next the status of implementation of the project’s action from October 2016 to May 2017 is described.

To such date, the preparatory actions have been accomplished. Within Action A.1. Selection of main substances and target groups of biocides, the list of biocidal active substances for models optimization has been completed having extended the number of compounds from Main Group 3 to all types of biocidal products. The ecotoxicological information of such substances and that of their corresponding metabolites, transformation and degradation products has been compiled for four trophic levels: fish, invertebrates, algae and microbes. During the implementation of Action A.2. Critical studies on existing modelling approaches with risk assessment purposes, existing models for the prediction of the ecotoxicity potential of biocidal active substances have been evaluated and validated considering the OECD guidelines. Furthermore, the existing software tools for the prediction of biocidal active substances metabolites, transformation and degradation products have been reviewed and selected for their use in ulterior actions. Finally, the dataset of the optimization of the models has been characterized by topological descriptors. Main outputs of Action A.3. Requirements and specifications of the COMBASE software platform, consist on the Project’s Target data base, the identification of stakeholders needs and the definition of the functionalities of the COMBASE software tool. Project’s data base contains to date more than 250 contacts of different nature, including companies and industrial associations, relevant agencies at EU level working on the implementation of the BPR and consumer associations. In relation to the identification of stakeholder’s needs a survey has been conducted at international level. Finally, the functionalities of the tool have been defined with a twofold objective: the definition of the characteristics that the models should ideally have for their acceptance in regulatory terms and the identification of the existing alternatives for models integration within formerly developed initiatives (VEGA, ToxRead and OECD Toolbox) and the technical specifications of the COMBASE Web based tool, ie, the type of data that will be entered to the tool and the output information that it will provide have been defined.

Only initial steps have been undertaken for what refers to the implementation actions in agreement with the actual version of project’s planning: within Action B.1. Optimization and experimental assessment of cheminformatic models the criteria for the selection of the chemicals to be used within the experimental validation of the models have been defined. In the case of action B.4. Tool Transferability – Training for the sustainable use of chemicals, efforts have been devoted for the involvement of the relevant stakeholders (EFSA, ECHA, JRC, National Authorities) within the specific Task B.4.3. Seminars. A series of key contacts have been identified –up to 14 people- and invited to participate to project’s outputs.

In terms of monitoring actions, selected indicators are related with the updates in the list of biocidal active substances by the ECHA including new substances approval or withdrawal. Identified biocidal substances of non-chemical nature have also been included (Action C.1. Monitoring LIFE Performance Indicators). Since the implementation actions have not yet started, no relevant outputs are to be described for C.3. Monitoring the impact of the implementation actions. In case of C.2. Monitoring the socio-economic impact of the project actions on the local economy and population information has been compiled regarding costs associated to the positive socio economic impact of biocidal products (when invasive insects are considered), costs associated to the registration of new active substances and impacts of unidentified metabolites and/or transformation products.

Dissemination actions including web page development and notice boards, amongst other, have been carried out. Management actions including meeting organizations and project financial follow up complete the work carried out to date.