Research group Mattias Öberg

Towards a safe and sustainable use of chemicals. We want to give the scientific support needed to ensure a high level of protection of human health and to promote new approaches for assessment of hazards of chemicals.

Mattias Öberg

Principal researcher

The chemical industry shapes a range of other economic activities, from agriculture and construction to high tech industries such as aerospace and health care. Due to its role in the value chain, it serves all sectors of the economy and contributes to our well-being. But of the large number of chemicals present on the EU market today, only a small fraction has been thoroughly evaluated by authorities regarding their health and environmental properties and impacts, and even fewer are actually regulated. To fill this gap, we need to replace the traditional testing on animals with new approaches and to improve the methods for risk characterization, e.g. by introducing mechanistic information and measures of uncertainty.

Society's ability to manage risks associated with the use of chemicals is essential to achieve a sustainable development and a non-toxic environment. But the regulations and policies need to be based on solid science and there is a need for development and implementation of methods to assess chemical risk and safety. Our research aims to improve the data needed for hazard characterization and risk assessment.

Research group members

  • Mattias Öberg, PhD, Associate professor
  • Antero Silva, MSc, PhD student
  • Lars Brunken, MSc, PhD student
  • Elin Törnqvist, DMV, PhD

Research areas

All research activities are in accordance with a cycle that describes the interaction between science and policy (see figure). We combine experimental data and methodological development with critical analysis of guidelines for toxicity testing and regulatory frameworks. We also study how data has actually been used by agencies and industry and evaluate if the resulting risk mitigation strategies are protective. Currently, our most significant areas of research refer to dose-response modelling, occupational toxicology and new approach methods according to the 3Rs.

Societal interaction

The interface between science and policy is an increasingly important area for translational toxicological research, and it is central with an efficient translation of findings in toxicological sciences into risk assessment and regulatory practice. The research group is therefore seeking to be an active partner to authorities, national and international expert groups as well as in the communication to the general public. In addition, we develop new ways for strategic research communication including formats such as blogs, documentary films and podcasts.

Riskzonen – a podcast about risk [https://play.acast.com/s/riskzonen]

Toxicolour – a blog about toxicology and its role in society [https://toxicolour.blog/]


RESEARCH PROJECTS

Dose-response modelling

Dose-response assessment is a key component in hazard and risk characterization and is used to establish points of departure in risk management of chemicals related to a multitude of regulatory domains. The Benchmark dose (BMD) method is a statistical method that describes the dose-response and dose-effect data as a mathematical model. BMD is more precise than the traditional NOAEL approach and is currently appointed as the preferred approach in many regulatory guidelines. The project address several issues related to the improvement and use of BMD-modelling. For example, we include BMD modeling in probabilistic risk assessment of exposure to perfluorinated substances (PFAS) via drinking water. We also develop BMD methods for multiple endpoints and evaluate different strategies for selection of a critical effect level. The BMD is also an important tool in the research towards the 3R principles (replacement, reduction and refinement of animal experiments).

Financial support

  • The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)
  • The Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas)

Contact person

Mattias Öberg

Principal researcher

Antero Vieira Silva

Postdoctoral researcher

Risk assessment of perfluorinated compounds (PFAS)

We are members of the ITN (Innovative Training Network) PERFORCE3 that is a Europe-wide multi-partner doctoral research training programme in the field of PFASs contaminants coordinated by Stockholm University. PFASs comprise more than 4’700 substances and are of high global concern due to poorly defined risks to the environment and human health. In our research we strive to improve the understanding of these globally pervasive contaminants, find solutions for PFAS contamination problems and improve environmental and human health risk assessment frameworks and policies. Part of this work is also linked to the epidemiological investigation in Ronneby, a population highly exposed to PFAS via drinking water.

Visit Perforce3: https://perforce3-itn.eu/

Financial support

EU Horizon 2020 under its Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

Contact person

Mattias Öberg

Principal researcher

Lars Brunken

PhD student

Chemical incidents at the workplace

To improve chemical safety at the work place we need to know how common chemical incidents are, in which work situations they occur, which substances cause the most damage, and if the mitigation strategies and response is effective. Comparing data from the Poisons Information Centre with employers’ accident reports we have revealed under-recognized hazards at the workplace. For example, we have shown a need for improved risk management of cleaning agents in the workplace and identified a large under-reporting of chemical incidents in Swedish middle schools and high schools.

Financial support

  • AFA Försäkring

Contact persons

Mattias Öberg

Principal researcher

Linda Schenk

Principal researcher

3R

Our research group has a strong focus on modern methods for Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal-based research models. The principles of the 3Rs means replacing animal models in research with non-animal methods, and increase ethics and scientific quality when animal models are used.

Examples of the groups research projects are studying 3R awareness in different target groups (Replacement), development of mathematical models to improve study design in toxicity testing to increase scientific outcome with fewer research objects (Reduction) and development of new handling methods for rodents used in research (Refinement).

Financial support

  • The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)
  • The Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas)

Contact persons

  • Elin Törnqvist, DMV, PhD [bild, namn, title, telefon, mejl]
  • Antero Silva, MSc, PhD student [bild, namn, title, telefon, mejl]
  • Mattias Öberg, PhD, Associate professor [bild, namn, title, telefon, mejl]

Elin Törnqvist

Affiliated to research

Antero Vieira Silva

Postdoctoral researcher

Mattias Öberg

Principal researcher

Mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemicals

The current risk assessment paradigm is largely based on considering single chemical substances. The combined exposure to multiple chemicals raises serious concerns about the impacts on health and environment. The scientific evidence is increasing about mixture effects, pointing out that a neglect of combined effects can lead to underestimation of risk. We study the health effects and regulatory strategies related to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In specific, we pay attention to the developing fetus and female reproduction. Our studies include both complex mixtures and individual chemicals such as phthalates and PFAS.

Financial support

  • The Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas)

Contact person

Mattias Öberg

Principal researcher