The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has mapped substances on the EU market in a bid to help authorities identify, plan, monitor and regulate substances of concern. There are three groups of substances:
• 270 substances are high priority for risk management.
• 1,300 substances are high priority for data generation.
• 450 substances are low priority as sufficient regulation exists, and 500 substances have been concluded to be currently of low priority after assessment.
ECHA mentioned the focus is on the 4,700 substances registered above 100 tonnes. And more than 40% of these substances have been allocated to the above categories. The substance list will be published at the end of the year.
A joint enforcement project undertaken by the Nordic countries has found hazardous substances in over one-fifth of free promotional items tested. According to the Norwegian Environment Agency, inspectors found restricted substances above the limit mostly in soft plastic gadgets – due to the presence of softeners, like DEHP and SCCPs – as well as in toys, and electrical and electronic products.
The detected items contained either restricted substances in concentrations exceeding limit values or those on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs in concentrations over 0.1%. A final report of the joint enforcement project will be published this month (May 2019).
ECHA has added six new substances to the Candidate List. All have properties that are either carcinogenic, toxic to reproduction, persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT), endocrine disrupting, or are very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB). The Candidate List of substances of very high concern (SVHCs)forauthorisation now lists 197 substances.
The six new substances are:
• Pyrene, Phenanthrene and Fluoranthene are PAHs restricted in Germany under the GS mark, but not currently restricted under REACH ANNEX XVII with other PAHs;
• Benzo[k]fluoranthene is a PAH restricted under both the GS mark in Germany and REACH ANNEX XVII with other PAHs;
The European Commission is proposing to restrict formaldehyde in specific toys under Appendix C of Annex II of the Toy Safety Directive. The restriction will apply to six substances found in toys, including polymeric, resin-bonded wood, textile, leather,paperand water-based toy materials.
The European Commission is also proposing to amend point 13 of part III of Annex II of the Toy Safety Directive in regard to aluminium. The draft amendment aims to lower the migration limits for aluminium.
The exact dates for when the restrictions are put in place are not yet confirmed but the final date for comments is February 2019.
A database of over 4,000 chemical substances potentially found in plastic packaging, has been made publicly available. The Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPP) database (see CW; CRM) is the outcome of a collaboration between seven NGOs and research organisations in Europe and the US. The work has been submitted to Science of the Total Environment, and is now available, prior to peer review, as a preprint. The database is provided with the preprint as supplementary information.
In order to help consumers make informed choices for safer products while increasing pressure to substitute substances of concern, ECHA is going to establish a new database on the presence of hazardous chemicals in articles by the end of 2019 for waste treatment operators and consumers. The database will comprise information submitted by companies producing, importing or selling articles that contain Candidate List substances. Companies need to submit this information by the end of 2020. The work is based on the revised waste framework directive that entered into force in July 2018. It is part of the EU’s waste legislation package, contributing to the EU's circular economy policy.
ECHA has added eight new SVHCs to the Candidate List following the SVHC identification process with the involvement of the Member State Committee (MSC). Two further substances, TMA and DCHP, have also been added to the list, having been identified as SVHCs by the European Commission due to their respiratory sensitising properties and toxic for reproduction and endocrine-disrupting properties, respectively. The Commission’s decision follows the referral of the MSC opinions on these SVHC proposals in 2016.
Environment secretary Michael Gove has approved emergency cash for Brexit preparations at DEFRA, after the department’s top civil servant warned that there could be “severe disruption to vital public services” without it.
Clare Moriarty, DEFRA’s permanent secretary, wrote to Gove on 18 January to request the extra funding. She requested funding for six specific projects, including £5.8m for new IT capability to enable registration and regulation of chemicals placed on the UK market. Work on this is scheduled to begin in February 2018.
DEFRA also needs £500,000 to develop a UK system to manage the quota of fluorinated gases and ozone depleting substances required under the UN Montreal Protocol. This work is scheduled to begin in March.
Trader Joe’s, the grocer known for its eclectic products, will remove two controversial substances from its register receipts, according to the company’s website. Sample of store receipts shows widespread use of BPA and substance is linked to hormone-disrupting effects in children.
ECHA has added seven new substances of very high concern (SVHC) to the Candidate List and updated the entry for bisphenol A (BPA) following the SVHC identification process with the involvement of the Member State Committee (MSC). New substances include Chrysene, Benz[a]anthracene, Cadmium nitrate, Cadmium hydroxide, Cadmium carbonate, etc. The BPA entry was updated to reflect an additional reason for inclusion due to its endocrine disrupting properties causing adverse effects to the environment.
A dozen repro-toxic and carcinogenic substances will be phased out from the EU market within the next four years following the publication of the European Commission's decision. Eight repro-toxic substances, seven of them phthalates, will be banned from July 2020, with applications for individual uses accepted until January 2019. Anthracene oil and high-temperature coal-tar pitch must be phased out by October 2020, and the ban on two additional compounds classified as environmental endocrine disruptors will come into force on January 2021.
Over the last decade, an unprecedented amount of information about chemical hazards and exposure has been collected and stored in the databases of Echa. Echa has been taking research on the substances could be confidently categorised as high priority substances with likely hazards and likely exposure during use. But there are still 3,000 substances in what the agency describes as a ‘grey zone’ where it has insufficient information to make a determination about the risks they pose.
China’s National Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently consulted on a draft list of substance restrictions in consumer products. The list combines a number of existing Chinese standards and, where no domestic standard exists, it refers to restrictions based on EU and other foreign legislation. The draft is similar to the consumer restrictions set out in REACH Annex XVII - includes 103 chemicals and proposes limit values for their use in consumer products, such as toys, textiles, coatings, paints, decoration materials and furniture.
Turkey's customs and trade ministry has amended the recently adopted Regulation on toy safety. The most significant change is a large reduction of the metal content in toys. The Regulation now provides an exemption for nickel used in toys, or their components, made of stainless steel that are intended to conduct an electric current. The amendments also comprise specific limit values for certain substances in toys intended for children under 36 months and in other toys intended to be placed in the mouth.
The OECD has launched version four of its Qsar Toolbox, with some features designed specifically for companies looking to register substances under REACH ahead of the 2018 deadline. Echa head Geert Dancet used the agency's stakeholders day to remind companies planning to register substances under next year's deadline that they must pre-register their substances by 31 May this year.
A study shows that recycled plastics from electrical and electronic goods used in toy manufacturing which contains brominated flame retardants is putting the health of children exposed to them at risk. Brominated flame-retarding chemicals have been associated with lower mental, psychomotor and IQ development, poorer attention spans and decreases in memory and processing speed. In February EU restrict the use of one such substance, DecaBDE, but also allowed exemptions. Meanwhile, the substances may still be found in imported products that have been recycled in countries like China, which means buying something on the market because the company likes the design then they may bring products into the EU that contain substances that are not allowed.
Another seven toxic substances may be added to the REACH chemicals regime authorisation list under plans drawn up by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Consultation on the list, which heralds a significant expansion of annex XIV to REACH, began on 2 March. These seven substances are karanal, 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, four related phenolic benzotriazoles (UV-328, UV-327, UV-350 and UV-320) and a family of phthalic acid esters which could be used in adhesives. ECHA is seeking comment on the substances’ uses, proposed transitional arrangements, possible exemptions from authorisation and information on supply chains until 2 June. A final decision on the proposals will be taken by the European Commission.
China's food packaging regulations, announced in November 2016, will take effect on 19 October this year. Violations can result in fines of 20 times the commodity value for manufacturers or importers using unapproved materials, and up to ten times the value for food producers or operators using non-compliant products. However, the clearances for food contact materials (FCMs) could be very different from the substances approved in the EU – many substances currently permitted in the US and Europe are not yet cleared under the Chinese system.
The Member State Committee (MSC) unanimously agreed on the identification of four substances of very high concern (SVHCs): bisphenol A, PFDA, PTAP and 4-HPbl. ECHA will include these substances in the Candidate List in January 2017.
The last REACH registration deadline will be on 31 May 2018. This deadline concerns companies that manufacture or import chemical substances in low volumes, between 1-100 tonnes per year. Practical advice on the different steps companies need to take to complete their registration is available on ECHA's website. ECHA has completed the toolkit to support companies for the 2018 registration deadline. All companies are encouraged to follow the step-by-step advice and speed up their preparations.