The Dutch presidency of the EU (first six months of 2016) made combating occupational cancer a priority. In this context, on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the Dutch institute for public health and the environment (RIVM) investigated early warning systems in Europe for new and emerging carcinogenic risks.
Based on a questionnaire sent to 51 European countries, to which 23 replied, seven countries have developed a warning tool specifically designed for risks related to chemical substances and ten other countries have tools which can be used as such.
It is mainly doctors who use these tools when they suspect a previously unknown link between substances or work processes and their effects on health. In some countries, industrial doctors and nurses, employers and trade unions also use this tool. Then, a group of occupational disease experts assesses the possible causal link.
Databases are also available regarding exposure to dangerous substances and processes and their effects on health. They can be used to identify possible carcinogens. Once again, expert groups play a fundamental role in assessment.
The opinion of most of the countries that replied to the questionnaire is that the information should preferably be gathered and assessed at the international level. Many suggested using an existing international network such as MODERNET.