Thursday, 17 March 2016

MonCOEH expert attends IARC meeting in France

In February 2016, 24 experts from eight countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, to assess the carcinogenicity of seven industrial chemicals.

Associate Professor Deb Glass from the Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health (MonCOEH) at SPHPM attended the World Health Organisation (WHO) agency meeting with other leading experts to come to an agreement on the carcinogenicity of the chemical agents under discussion.

This was the first IARC meeting for Associate Professor Deb Glass, who said the week-long meeting was a challenging but very rewarding experience.

“I really enjoyed attending the IARC meeting — the groups worked well and although discussions could be robust they were always interesting,” she said.

The IARC Monographs Programme is a core element of the agency’s portfolio of activities, with international expert working groups evaluating the evidence of the carcinogenicity of specific exposures. The Agency is also committed to studying approaches for the early detection of cancer and in evaluating prevention strategies.

Earlier this month the resultant Lancet article was published, chronicling the decisions by the IARC on how each of the seven industrial chemicals should be classified according to their carcinogenicity.

The IARC is the specialised cancer agency of the WHO. The objective of the Agency is to promote international collaboration in cancer research with an inter-disciplinary approach, bringing together skills in exposure assessment, epidemiology, laboratory sciences and biostatistics to identify the causes of cancer so that preventive measures may be adopted and the burden of disease and associated suffering reduced.

The IARC is a permanent body based in Lyon and meets a few times a year. For each meeting the IARC recruit experts according to the chemical agents they are assessing and put a call out for researchers with expertise in that field.

Associate Professor Glass said that following the IARC meeting and findings, regulators may need to take action, as some of these industrial chemical are high production volume chemicals. Manufacturers and users will also have to review safety and handling procedures for use of the particular chemical.

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