Mattias Öberg



Mattias Öberg, PhD, ERT – Senior Researcher

The research focus of Science-to-policy is how toxicology sciences affect and interact with policy development and chemical safety.

Why is my research needed?

Today, chemical safety is mainly based on a single chemicals evaluated for effects in laboratory animals. However, the current approach are neither able to handle novel molecular insights, the complexity of mixtures, nor the new understanding of how environmental factors may influence health from preconception to the last year of life.

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.

Six important issues for risk assessment that need further studies:

  • Chemical safety in relation to susceptible populations
  • Assessment and expression of uncertainty in risk characterization
  • Innovation, validation and implementation of alternative methods according to the 3R-principles
  • Complex and combined mixtures of chemicals
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • Late health effects from early exposure


What do I do?

All research activities are in accordance with a cycle that describes the interaction between science and policy (see figure). I combine experimental data with critical analysis of guidelines for toxicity testing and regulatory frameworks. As an example, in studies about how asthmatics are included in risk assessment we performed and evaluated experimental studies to understand mechanistic aspects of susceptibility. In addition, we evaluated if asthmatics are included in the regulations for risk assessment. But we did not stop there. We also studied how data on asthmatics was actually used by industry and evaluated if the resulting limit values are protective. The idea of this multidisciplinary approach is well represented in the thesis by one of my former PhD students, Mia Johansson.

Societal interactions

The double nature of Swetox, being both a university institution and a national center for expertise in toxicology sciences, requests competitive international research and education as well as capability to meet the applied needs from stakeholders such as national and international agencies, and from research oriented parts of the private sector. The interface between science and policy as 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. Regular meetings and interactions with central agencies both in Sweden and elsewhere are therefore important part of my work.

I currently serves as expert and toxicologist in the Nordic Expert Group and in the Stockholm City scientific advisory board for chemicals. I am also chair of the national committee for European Registered Toxicologists and past-president of the Swedish society of toxicology.

Communicating science to the public is also important for the area of science-to-policy. My personal views on research in general and toxicology in specific are given in my blog “Toxicolour”. I am regularly participating as an expert in Swedish Radio answering questions about chemicals, health and environment.

Ongoing projects

  • Experimental design aligned with dose-response modelling as a means for 3R in toxicity testing (Financial support: Swedish Research Council)
  • Bayesian dose-response modelling aligned with experimental design as means to improve chemical risk assessment (Financial support: Swedish Research Council)
  • Kemiska olyckor i arbetslivet – systematisk analys av giftinformationscentralens arbetsmiljörelaterade data (Financial support: AFA Försäkring)
  • EDC-MixRisk, safe chemicals for future generations (see below for more information)
  • EDC-2020, a project about endocrine disrupting chemicals (Financial support: Formas)
  • Elimination and effects of PFAS in drinking water (Collaboration with Lund University).
  • Developing Comparative Risk Assessment into a useful tool for substituting hazardous chemicals (Collaboration with Gothenburg University)
  • Relative potency values for polychlorinated biphenyls based on endpoints of hepatotoxicity (Collaboration with Karolinska Institutet)


The EDC-MixRisk project

EDC-MixRisk is a Horizon 2020 research and innovation program including 12 partners. Mattias Öberg is work package leader with responsibility for risk assessment and societal imteraction.The interdisciplinary and integrated research approach in EDC-MixRisk focuses on the effects of mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on children. Three health domains are defined: growth and metabolism, neurodevelopment, and sexual development. The researchers involved will develop risk assessment of EDC mixtures through improved understanding of health effects in these domains and underlying mechanisms.



Influence of Distribution of Animals between Dose Groups on the Estimation of the Benchmark Dose and on Animal Distress for Continuous Effects.
Ringblom J, Kalantari F, Öberg M.

Records from the Swedish Poisons Information Centre as a means for surveillance of occupational accidents and incidents with chemicals
Schenk L, Feychting K, Annas A, Öberg M.

Comparison of airway response in naïve and ovalbumin-sensitized mice during short-term inhalation exposure to chlorine.
Johansson M, Gustafsson Å, Johanson G, Öberg M

Influence of Distribution of Animals between Dose Groups on the Estimation of the Benchmark Dose and on Animal Distress for Quantal Responses.
Kalantari F, Ringblom J, Sand S, Öberg M. (2017)
Risk Analysis 2017(EPub ahead of print, DOI: 10.1111/risa.12741)

Assigning ethical weights to clinical signs observed during toxicity testing.
Ringblom J, Hansson SO, Rudén C, Öberg M
ALTEX 2017; 34(1):148-156

Does industry take the susceptible subpopulation of asthmatic individuals into consideration when setting derived no-effect levels?
Johansson M, Johanson G, Öberg M, Schenk L
Journal of applied toxicology 2016;36(11):1379-91

Evaluation of the experimental basis for assessment factors to protect individuals with asthma from health effects during short-term exposure to airborne chemicals
Johansson M, Johanson G, Öberg M
Critical reviews in toxicology 2016;46(3):241-60

Uppsala Consensus Statement on Environmental Contaminants and the Global Obesity Epidemic
Lind L, Lind PM, Lejonklou M, Dunder L, Bergman Å, Guerrero-Bosagna C, et al
Environmental health perspectives 2016;124(5):A81-3

Inhibitory effects on osteoblast differentiation in vitro by the polychlorinated biphenyl mixture Aroclor 1254 are mainly associated with the dioxin-like constituents
Herlin M, Öberg M, Ringblom J, Joseph B, Korkalainen M, Viluksela M, et al
Toxicology in vitro 2015;29(5):876-83

Advancing the 3Rs in regulatory toxicology – Carcinogenicity testing: Scope for harmonisation and advancing the 3Rs in regulated sectors of the European Union
Annys E, Billington R, Clayton R, Bremm K, Graziano M, Mckelvie J, et al
Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology 2014;69(2):234-42

Aerial Application of Mancozeb and Urinary Ethylene Thiourea (ETU) Concentrations among Pregnant Women in Costa Rica: The Infants’ Environmental Health Study (ISA)
De Joode Bv, Mora Am, Cordoba L, Cano Jc, Quesada R, Faniband M, et al
Environmental Health Perspectives 2014;122(12):1321-8

Strategic focus on 3R principles reveals major reductions in the use of animals in pharmaceutical toxicity testing
Törnqvist E, Annas A, Granath B, Jalkesten E, Cotgreave I, Öberg M
PloS one 2014;9(7):e101638-

How are asthmatics included in the derivation of guideline values for emergency planning and response?
Johansson M, Johanson G, Oberg M
Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2012;63(3):461-70

Indigenous children living nearby plantations with chlorpyrifos-treated bags have elevated 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy) urinary concentrations
De Joode Bv, Barraza D, Ruepert C, Mora Am, Cordoba L, Oberg M, et al
Environ Res 2012;:17-26

The point of transition on the dose-effect curve as a reference point in the evaluation of in vitro toxicity data
Sand S, Ringblom J, Hakansson H, Oberg M
J Appl Toxicol 2012;32(10):843-9

Worldwide burden of disease from exposure to second-hand smoke: a retrospective analysis of data from 192 countries
Oberg M, Jaakkola Ms, Woodward A, Peruga A, Pruss-ustun A
Lancet 2011;377(9760):139-46

Benchmark dose approaches in chemical health risk assessment in relation to number and distress of laboratory animals
Oberg M
Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology 2010;58(3):451-4

Discrepancy among acute guideline levels for emergency response
Oberg M, Palmen N, Johanson G
J Haz Mat 2010;184(1-3):439-47

Health impact assessment of environmental tobacco smoke in european children: sudden infant death syndrome and asthma episodes.
Boldo E, Medina S, Oberg M, Puklova V, Mekel O, Patja K, et al
Public Health Reports 2010;125(3):478-87

Toxicity of Bromkal 70-5DE, a technical mixture of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, following 28 d of oral exposure in rats and impact of analysed impurities
Oberg M, Westerholm E, Fattore E, Stern N, Hanberg A, Haglund P, et al
Chemosphere 2010;80(2):137-43

Adult smoking as a proxy for environmental tobacco smoke exposure among children – Comparing the impact of the level of information in Estonia, Finland and Latvia
Patja K, Hakala S, Prattala R, Ojala K, Boldo E, Oberg M
Prev Med 2009;49(2-3):240-4

Exposure to dioxin-like pollutants via different food commodities in Swedish children and young adults
Bergkvist C, Oberg M, Appelgren M, Becker W, Aune M, Ankarberg Eh, et al
Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46(11):3360-7

Occurrence and levels of environmental chemicals in human milk in the general population
Branting Tj, Ruden C, Oberg M, Bjorkdahl C
Toxicol Letters 2006;:S117-S117

Identification of the tryptophan photoproduct 6-formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole, in cell culture medium, as a factor that controls the background aryl hydrocarbon receptor activity
Oberg M, Bergander L, Hakansson H, Rannug U, Rannug A
Tox Sci 2005;85(2):935-43

Subchronic toxicity of Baltic herring oil and its fractions in the rat (III) bone tissue composition and dimension, and ratio of n-6/n-3 fatty acids in serum phospholipids
Stern N, Korotkova M, Strandvik B, Oxlund H, Oberg M, Hakansson H, et al
Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol 2005;96(6):453-64

Subchronic toxicity of Baltic herring oil and its fractions in the rat I: Fractionation and levels of organohalogen pollutants
Oberg M, Stern N, Jensen S, Wesen C, Haglund P, Casabona H, et al
Pharmacol Toxicol 2002;91(5):220-31

Subchronic toxicity of Baltic herring oil and its fractions in the rat II: Clinical observations and toxicological parameters
Stern N, Oberg M, Casabona H, Trossvik C, Manzoor E, Johansson N, et al
Pharmacol Toxicol 2002;91(5):232-44

Tissue distribution and half-lives of individual polychlorinated biphenyls and serum levels of 4-hydroxy-2,3,3 ‘,4 ‘,5-pentachlorobiphenyl in the rat
Oberg M, Sjodin A, Casabona H, Nordgren I, Klasson-wehler E, Hakansson H
Tox Sci 2002;70(2):171-82

Multivariate modelling of polychlorinated biphenyl-induced CYP1A activity in the MH1C1 rat hepatoma cell line
Oberg M, Andersson Pl, Johansson N, Tysklind M, Hakansson H
ATLA-Alternatives to laboratory animals 2001;29(3):291-5


Alternativa mjukgörare i sjukvårdsmiljö
Öberg M, Hellmold H, Lindberg J, Nilsson C, Bergman Å
Swetox-rapport 2016, Södertälje, Sweden

Pyriproxifen and microcephaly: an investigation of potential ties to the ongoing ”Zika epidemic”
Cotgrave I., et al.
Swetox-rapport 2016, Södertälje, Sweden

Miljöhälsorapport 2013
Main editor: Öberg M, Author/coauthor to the following chapters: Ch. 3. Child health and environment; Ch. 4. Health related quality of life; Ch. 9. Environmental tobacco smoke; Ch. 11 Chemicals.
Institutet för miljömedicin, 2013

Barns och ungas hälsa, vård och omsorg.
Öberg M, author of Ch. 9. Barns fysiska Miljö. 20 pages
Socialstyrelsen (2013)

Children and Chemical Safety – An Inventory of Activities by International and National Organizations and Agencies
Larsson K and Öberg M.
Swedish Chemicals Agency 2012, Stockholm, Sweden

Global estimate of the burden of disease from second-hand smoke.
Öberg M, Woodward A, Jaakkola MS, Peruga A, Pruss-Ustun A,
World Health Organization 2012, Geneva

Spolvätskor för behandling av akut exponering för fluorvätesyra och andra starka syror och baser. Kunskapsöversikt Rapport 2010:6,
Öberg M, Sjögren B, Boman A, Johanson G.
Arbetsmiljöverket 2010, Stockholm, Sweden

Second-hand smoke, Assessing the burden of disease at national and local levels. WHO Environmental Burden of Disease Series, No. 18,
Öberg M, Jaakkola MS, Prüss-Üstün A, Schweizer C, Woodward A.
World Health Organization 2010, Geneva

Miljöhälsorapport 2009.
Öberg M author of Ch 4 Gender differences; Ch 7 Environmental tobacco smoke.
Socialstyrelsen 2009

Riktvärden för akut exponering för kemiska ämnen
Öberg M, Palmen N, Stenius U, Johanson G
IMM-rapport 1-2008

Summary Risk Assessment – CASCADE Model Compounds: Dioxins
Beronius A, Hakner S, Öberg M, Hanberg, A and Håkansson, H

Kemikalier och könsskillnader – 2
Johanson G, Berglund M, Feychting M, Hanberg A, Håkansson H, Högberg J, Larsson K, Lidén C, Lundbäck B, Renström A, Vahter M, Victorin K, Öberg M.
IMM-rapport 2-2007

Risk assessment of non-developmental health effects of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls in food.
Hanberg A, Öberg M, Sand S, Darnerud PO, and Glynn A
SLV-report 11/2007

Kemikalier och könsskillnader
Vahter M, Bellander T, Berglund M, Ernstgård L, Hanberg A, Högberg J, Johansson G, Johansson I, Victorin K, Wallén M, and Öberg M. (2006)
IMM-rapport 3-2006

Health effects of organic pollutants, SNV-report 5121
Öberg M and Håkansson H.
Naturvårdsverket 2001, ISBN:91-620-5121-0


Asthmatics as a susceptible population in health risk assessment of airborne chemicals
PhD Dissertation by Mia Johansson, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 2016.

External assignments

Member of Nordiska Expertgruppen (The Nordic Expert Group)