Chemical exposure

In the area of chemistry and exposure, assessments of human exposure to chemical substances are an integrated part of many research projects at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark.

By comparing the human exposure assessments with toxicological values such as the co-called Acceptable Daily Intake, ADI, the National Food Institute can on a scientific basis evaluate and assess whether a certain chemical constitutes a health risk for humans.

To develop population-based exposure assessment the National Food Institute generates research results for residue contents in the different food items. Using various modelling tools, the institute combines these results with knowledge on dietary habits for different groups in the population.

On this background the exposure calculation is performed. However, it is crucial and very important to be aware of the purpose of th calculation and the quality of the input values. Is the purpose to calulate the exposure for the whole population or only children?

In research on human exposure, a deterministic approach using one value for the intake of a food item and a single value for the content of food per individual has normally been used. However, the methods continuously need to be developed and, at the same time, the use of probabilistic modelling is increasing. Using such methods a greater utilization of all data for intake and content is achieved. 


Danish Veterinary and Food Administration 
University of Copenhagen

More information

Three short videos from the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, explains what work is carried out to protect consumers from the harmful effects of chemicals in food.

One video explains how experts set the acceptable limit for the presence of different both naturally occurring and manmade chemicals in foods (video).

Another video shows how data about European consumers’ food intake can be used to calculate how much of a chemical consumers are exposed to and thereby what risk the chemical poses (video).

The last video explains what low-dose effects are (video).

Also check out this infographic from EFSA,which shows what types of chemical contamination are present in foods as well as what is done to collect more comparable data on the level of chemical contamination in food in the different member states so the data can be used to better protect the health of Europe’s consumers.

Research groups


Elsa Ebbesen Nielsen
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 75 27


Bodil Hamborg Jensen
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 74 68


Anette Schnipper
Head of Division
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 75 23
27 NOVEMBER 2020