Thursday, January 14, 2010

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Adds 14 More "Substances of Very High Concern"

As REACH moves towards its first major registration deadline at the end of this year, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), located in Helsinki, Finland, has now added an additional 14 "substances of very high concern" (SVHC) to its candidate list. The candidate list is the first step in the Authorization portion of the REACH regulation of chemicals. Authorization is a bit of a misnomer. While it may sound good ("hey, I'm authorized to keep making my chemical"), in reality it signifies that ECHA has deemed the chemical to be hazardous enough to severely limit its current use and put it on track for a complete ban.

This is the second installment of the candidate list; the first featured 15 chemicals. These 29 chemicals will now get further evaluation and if they are determined to be sufficiently risky to put onto the Annex IV Authorization list, companies that manufacture or import them will have to apply for authorization to continue to do so. Even if they get authorization, it is likely that the volumes and uses will be significantly restricted. And on top of that, authorization requires the company to present a plan for finding a substitute. Companies may have only a few years to continue using the substance before it will be banned from the market.

Issuance of these candidate SVHC chemicals is a reminder that there are parallel tracks going on in REACH. While most companies are focused on the Registration phase (the "R" in REACH), member states and ECHA are already working on Evaluation dossiers and the candidate lists for Authorization. And for those chemicals that have been registered early, not only are they getting the automated "completeness" check, they are getting the human review for compliance. In short, ECHA is very very busy right now in cold, blustery Helsinki.

And you thought TSCA Reform in the US was the only chemical control issue on people's minds.

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