17-Dec-2009 - Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR)

Identifying, assessing and preventing intoxications

45 years’ successful prevention work by the BfR Committee for the Assessment of Intoxications

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) staged a celebratory event to mark the 45th anniversary of the Committee for the Assessment of Intoxications which is attached to the Institute. Since the Committee was set up in 1964 several fundamentals for clinical toxicology have been established in Germany that permit the improved prevention and the more targeted treatment of intoxications. The individual and appropriate treatment of intoxication cases in cooperation with the poison information and treatment centres, improved prevention and better consumer protection - particularly through new product compositions, warnings and sales bans - have markedly reduced the number of child fatalities connected to intoxication accidents. "With regard to the prevention of intoxication accidents, the Committee has made outstanding progress thanks to the research findings of its members and its input into legislation", commented BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.

The Committee for the Assessment of Intoxications was founded in 1964 within the former Federal Health Office (BGA) and modelled on the American FDA “National Clearing House for Poison Control Centres”. Renowned experts were appointed to the Committee who offer support for the provision of advice on and the treatment of intoxication accidents in the German poison information and treatment centres. The Committee, on which more than 170 experts have collaborated up to now, provides input for legislative procedures. For instance with the backing of the Committee BfR proposed the EU-wide restriction of the sale of paraffin-containing, coloured and perfumed lamp oils which led to a marked drop in the number of intoxication accidents with these oils. Also the EU standard on “Child-resistant closures”, the restrictions on methanol in consumer preparations and changes in formulations and warnings on mechanical dishwashing products are all down to the initiative of Committee members.

The Committee has evaluated information on the identification and treatment of intoxications since 1965. It stores this information within BfR in a “poison information and recording system - GIFAS”. Besides substance and treatment information, details on more than 300,000 fomulations have been processed.

The most important goal of the Committee’s work in the future is the setting up of a national monitoring scheme of intoxications in cooperation with the German poison information and treatment centres and the Society for Clinical Toxicology.

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