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ECHA proposes seven toxic substances for REACH authorisation

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has recommended adding seven substances of very high concern (SVHCs) to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation (REACH) list for authorisation. 

ECHA proposes seven toxic substances for REACH authorisation
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If the European Commission accepts the recommendation, the substances will be heavily restricted and it will be against the law to supply use them without individual authorisation in EU countries.

The ECHA’s 5 February recommendation to the commission relates to two substances that are toxic for reproduction and five that have persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic and/or very persistent and very bioaccumulative properties.

The substances have been prioritised from the REACH regulation’s candidate list of SVHCs because the ECHA says they may pose a threat to human health or the environment. Some of the substances are currently not used in the European Union but could replace other substances recommended for or already on the REACH authorisation list. 

The chemicals include 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, a solvent used as a paint stripper and for surface treatment of textiles and resins and which tests have shown disrupts the reproductive systems of animals. Other chemicals in the eighth recommendation use compounds used for fragrance in soaps and detergents, as an ultraviolet (UV) stabiliser in plastic product and rubber coatings, as a plasticiser in polyvinyl chloride compounds and as a solvent in coatings and cleaning agents. The ECHA has recommended them to avoid substitution. 

The authorisation procedure aims to progressively replace SVHCs with suitable alternatives as soon as technically and economically feasible. The substitution principle is a key element of the REACH regulation from December 2006 and authorisation aims to assure that risks arising from SVHCs are properly controlled until substitution is achieved. Substances identified as meeting the SVHC criteria are included in the candidate list.

The ECHA prioritises substances from the list to determine which ones should be included in the REACH authorisation list and is required to submit recommendations at least every second year. The European Commission decides, assisted by the REACH committee, which substances are to be included in the authorisation list. 

Nick Warburton is deputy editor of IOSH Magazine 

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