In REACH and chemicals news, it was announced in Europe that six dangerous substances are to be phased out. This means that manufacturers who use these chemicals in their products — or have absorbed them somewhere in their supply chain — will have to:
a) know about those offending product ingredients, and
b) find replacement raw materials if the company is to conduct business in Europe legally.
The Commission decision follows the successful first phase of REACH’s registration and notification of chemicals. It’s all a part of REACH, Europe’s initiative to make the use of chemicals safer.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani said, “Today’s decision is an example of the successful implementation of REACH and of how sustainability can be combined with competitiveness. It will encourage industry to develop alternatives and foster innovation.”
What it means is that six substances of very high concern — also known as SVHCs — have been moved from the candidate list to the authorization list, known as Annex XIV, under the EU’s REACH regulation. Annex XIV is like chemical-Alcatraz, substances there cannot be placed on the market or used unless they get a special clearance from the Agency and authorisation is granted for a specific use. All SVHC listings, selections and classifications are based on recommendations made by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
The following six chemical substances of very high concern are the first entrants in the Annex XIV:
1. 5-ter-butyl-2,4,6-trinito-m-xylene (musk xylene)
2. 4,4′-diaminodiphenylmethane (MDA)
3. hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)
4. bis(2-ethylexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
5. benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
6. dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
If your company uses any of these substances – even in tiny quanitites – or if these substances appear magically in your product from a mysterious supply chain source – a timetable for substitution will have to be submitted. These six substances have been determined to be either carcinogenic, toxic for reproduction or persistent in the environment and to accumulate in living organisms, and will be banned within the next three to five years.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potonik said: “Chemicals are everywhere in the modern world and some of them can be very dangerous. Today’s decision is an important step towards better protecting our health and the environment.”
Additional substances will be added to Annex XIV in the future.
The Commission also says it will put forth a greater number of known substances of very high concern for inclusion in the candidate list. The Commission and the European Chemicals Agency say they are fully committed to achieve this goal, and are expecting the “active engagement of the Member States.”
SVHC background. As we’ve reported previously in this blog, the SVHC list is simply a list of Substances of Very High Concern. “Only the European community could come up with such a tactful term for ‘highly toxic stuff,’” as a recent article in Environmental Leader put it.
By 2012, over 165 substances are expected to be listed on the SVHC candidate list. The list includes substances which are:
* Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic to Reproduction
* Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) or very Persistent and very Bioaccumulative (vPvB) (defined by REACH criteria), and/or
* Identified as causing probable serious effects to humans or the environment of an equivalent level of concern as those above, e.g. endocrine disrupters — for reference, in the US there are 134 suspected endocrine disruptors.