Friday, October 17, 2008

EU Chemical Agency Identifies 15 REACH Chemicals

Oct 9: The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has agreed on the first group of 15 "very high concern" chemicals to the chemical regulation -- Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH). At its meeting in Helsinki, Finland on October 7-8, 2008, the ECHA Member State Committee unanimously agreed on the identification of 14 "Substances of Very High Concern" (SVHC) that may become subject to authorization. One additional substance was already identified as SVHC without Member State Committee involvement as no comments were provided during the public consultation.

The 15 substances will be included in the ‘Candidate List’ which will be published on the ECHA website later in October. Executive Director of ECHA Geert Dancet stressed that, “these 15 are only the first substances of very high concern identified through the formal process. The EU Member States and ECHA are preparing new proposals and the Candidate List will thus be updated.”

Proposals for 16 substances to be included in the ‘Candidate’ list were submitted in the form of Annex XV dossiers by seven Member States in June 2008. The proposals were published for public consultation (July-August 2008). The Member State Committee (MSC) debated on 15 substances and found unanimous agreement on the identification of 14 substances as SVHCs that may become subject to authorization, taking into account the comments received from various stakeholders and Member States. On one proposal, Cyclododecane, the MSC unanimously agreed that there was no sufficient scientific data to justify identification under Art. 57. The 16th substance, triethyl arsenate, was already identified as a SVHC without MSC involvement, as no comments had been received during the consultation process.

Once the candidate list is officially published, companies will be obliged to inform consumers within 45 days whether such chemicals are present in the products on sale in the EU common market. A release from Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) indicates that, "Faced with this requirement and impending regulation, it is in companies’ own interests that they start replacing them with safer alternatives. Importantly, a brominated flame retardant commonly found in house dust, in wildlife and the wider environment, as well as being detectable in human blood (HBCDD), and three plastic softeners (the phthalates DEHP, DBP and BBP) are among the chemicals listed."

The 15 chemicals include: Diarsenic pentaoxide; Diarsenic trioxide; Sodium dichromate; 5-tert-butyl-2,4,6-trinitro-m-xylene (musk xylene); Bis (2-ethyl(hexyl)phthalate) (DEHP); Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and all major diastereoisomers identified (α – HBCDD, β-HBCDD, γ-HBCDD);Alkanes, C10-13, chloro (Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffins); Bis(tributyltin)oxide; Lead hydrogen arsenate; Benzyl butyl phthalate; and Triethyl arsenate.

Access a release from ECHA with links to additional information (
click here). Access the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) website (click here). Access a release from Greenpeace/WWF (click here). Access WIMS-EcoBizPort REACH Program links (click here). Access various WIMS-eNewsUSA Blog posts on REACH issues (click here). [*Toxics]