We all want to be certain whether or not exposure to a particular chemical substance is associated with a health risk. However, in most cases, research cannot absolutely reject nor with certainty demonstrate that there may be an increased health risk. In the EU the precautionary principle is used to ensure a balance between scientific uncertainty and acceptable risk. When the right balance must be found they listen to the relevant stakeholders, including consumer organizations responsible for EU citizens’ health interests as well as the industry, who protects the economic interests.
TREALIV represents only the interests of consumers and therefore we choose to present the research that give consumers insight into which substances are linked to adverse health effects. This gives consumers full transparency and they can relate by themselves to this knowledge. Although this knowledge may seem frightening to some, we believe that it is the right thing to inform, and let consumers make their own choice whether they want to know more and act on this knowledge.
We screen research studies by quality and present their evidence strength to the consumer. Read more below.
We only include information about adverse health effects that meet our quality criteria for good research. TREALIV uses the journal Quartile Score as a primary criterion and only includes publications from the journals belonging to the highest quartile (Q1) in its scientific category. Thus they are among the top 25% journals with the highest Impact Factor. The journal’s Impact Factor is calculated from the number of times all articles in a journal are cited by others and is thus an indicator of the journal’s importance. Impact Factor and Quartile Rankings are published annually in the Official Journal Citation Reports (JCR) of Thomson Reuters (formerly ISI).
Each adverse health effect is assessed for evidence strength. We have four categories of evidence strength: strong (+++), medium (++), weak (+) and no evidence.
+++ (Strong evidence): Before we say that there is a strong evidence that a substance may cause an adverse health effect this must be described by at least two independent studies of high quality which was conducted in a large population. Studies must be recognized by experts in the scientific field and must show a clear and strong correlation between exposure to a substance and the subsequent health effects. If there was conducted animal testing and other laboratory studies of high quality, they must show the same effects. If all these conditions are met, we categorize the adverse health effect as strong evidence.
++ (Medium evidence): Before we say that there is a medium evidence that a substance may cause an adverse health effect this must be described by at least one study of high quality which was conducted in a large population or at least two independent animal studies of high-quality. Studies must be recognized by experts in the scientific field and must show a clear and strong correlation between exposure to a substance and the subsequent health effects. If all these conditions are met, we categorize the adverse health effect as medium evidence.
+ (Weak evidence): Before we say that there is a weak evidence that a substance may cause an adverse health effect this must be described by at least two studies of medium quality which was conducted in a less large population or at least one animal study of high-quality, cell experiments or computer generated (QSAR). Studies must be recognized by experts in the scientific field and mut show a clear and strong correlation between exposure to a substance and subsequent health effects. If all these conditions are met, we categorize the adverse health effect as weak evidence.
Analysis and interpretation
The analysis of urine or hair samples of unwanted chemicals is also known as biomonitoring. For the best-researched chemicals, these analysis give the opportunity to say how high a risk a person has to experience adverse health effects. TREALIV aims to use only data linking the analysis results directly to a risk.
Unfortunately, this is not always possible, as there is often a lack of scientific data. In these cases, TREALIV compares the test results with known reference values from major, primarily international studies that are published by leading researchers in the field. For example, these studies could be commissioned by the the European countries’ environmental agencies or by the European Commission. Although these reference values cannot directly say how significant a risk you have of developing a particular disease, the comparison of your values with the average population can reveal whether you are exposed to unusually large amounts of unwanted chemicals because of your lifestyle and consumer habits.
Another thing that scientists have only just begun to investigate is the so-called cocktail effect – exposure to multiple chemicals that lead to the same adverse health effects, and in combination can lead to a much higher risk. Researchers have developed the first methods to account for these cocktail effects that TREALIV is applying in the interpretation of test results.
The analyzes are carried out in TREALIVs accredited partner laboratories, which have state of the art analysis techniques such as AAS, GC, GC / MS, HPLC, LC / MS and ICP / MS – spectroanalytical and chromatographic analysis methods.