Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ECHA Committee Adopts First Proposals to Restrict Chemical Substances Under REACH

A key committee responsible for determining chemicals that should be restricted under REACH has issued its first two opinions.  The Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) decided on March 8-11, 2011 that dimethylfumarate (DMFu) should be restricted in articles and lead and lead compounds should be restricted in jewelry.  Both of these chemical substances will now be severely restricted from being used.

The RAC found that:
There is a serious risk to consumers from the use of articles treated with DMFu and that the suggested restriction on the production and placing on the market of articles containing DMFu is appropriate in order to reduce the risk to consumers.

There will now be a temporary ban of the inclusion of DMFu in articles placed on the market in the EU until March 15, 2102, after which a decision will need to be made on whether to make the ban permanent.  DMFu had been used as an anti-mold agent, but there had been "several reports in many Member States of severe skin reactions (dermatitis) in consumers exposed to DMFu in articles, such as leather sofas and shoes." 

The RAC also found that:
Lead contained in jewellery may significantly contribute to the exposure of children to lead by them putting it in their mouths, and that a restriction is therefore appropriate...[A]fter assessing the dossier and the information submitted during the public consultation...basing the restriction on the content of lead in articles unless it could be demonstrated that lead is not released should a child put a piece of jewellery in his or her mouth. 

The main concern is the increased exposure to children, whose behavior often includes sucking or even swallowing small jewelry, and the well-known severe adverse effects to development of the central nervous system in children.

Along with the RAC determinations were parallel determinations on these two substances by the Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC).  More information on both can be found on the ECHA web site.  The opinions will also be available soon following the links.

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