Thursday, December 22, 2011

ECHA Adds 20 More Chemicals to Substances of Very High Concern List

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has added twenty additional substances to the Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC).  This brings the list up to a total of 73 chemicals.  Eight of the newly added chemicals were automatically added since no comments challenging their inclusion were received from the public.  The other 12 received unanimous agreement of the Member State Committee.

Of the 20, all but one were added because they have been identified as carcinogenic and/or toxic for reproduction. For the first time, however, one chemical was added to the Candidate List on the basis of "equivalent concern."  Specifically, the substance 4-tert-octyl phenol was "identified as an SVHC because of its endocrine disrupting properties" and "probable serious effects to the environment."  The use of endocrine disrupting properties to list a chemical is somewhat controversial as there is still significant uncertainty surrounding the methodologies used to make the determination.  Validation of a suite of endocrine disruption tests is ongoing, with mixed results.

The Candidate List serves as a launching point for ECHA to add chemicals to the Annex XIV of the REACH regulation, also known as the Authorization List.  Chemicals that are put on Annex XIV are slated for replacement and manufacturers are required to apply for "authorization" for continued use, which is limited to specific uses, volumes and risk management measures, all while working against a deadline for substitution of less hazardous substances.

More information and the list of substances is available on ECHA's recently revamped web site.

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