The European Chemicals Agency has recommended that four coatings chemicals be deemed “substances of very high concern” that should “not be used without authorization”—a proposal that could also affect the chemicals’ future in the United States.
On Monday (Dec. 20), the chemical agency, known as ECHA, recommended to the European Commission that the four coatings chemicals and four others be classified as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) under Europe’s REACH Regulation.
Targeted are Lead Chromate, widely used in pigments; Lead sulfochromate yellow (C.I. Pigment Yellow 34); Lead chromate molybdate sulphate red (C.I. Pigment Red 104); and Tris(2-chloroethyl)phosphate – TCEP, a flame retardant.
The three lead substances are all known to be carcinogenic and toxic to reproduction. TCEP, already in declining use, is toxic to reproduction.
Hazard, Exposure Criteria
REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances) is the European Community’s Regulation on chemicals and their safe use. ECHA implements REACH, which began in June 2007.
ECHA said it had singled out the eight chemical substances “based on their hazard properties, the volumes used, and the likelihood of exposure to humans or the environment.”
The proposal exempts no uses, or categories of uses—such as product and process-oriented research— from the requirement for authorization.
The European Commission will make the final decision on whether to include the substances in Annex XIV of the REACH Regulation. Substances on that list can be used within the EU only when authorized for specific purposes.
If approved, the eight chemicals would probably join the Annex XIV list in January 2012.
The decision is likely to be closely watched in the United States. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would partner with ECHA on chemical hazard and risk assessment, technical information, toxicity testing, risk management tools, and other mutual efforts to enhance chemical safety.
The other substances on ECHA’s list, and the risks cited, are:
• Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP - toxic to reproduction), used as a plasticizer for nitrocellulose, polyacrylate and polyacetate dispersions;
• Diarsenic trioxide (As203), a carcinogen used in the manufacture of glass and zinc;
• Diarsenic pentaoxide (As205), a carcinogen that could be used as a replacement for diarsenic trioxide (no known current uses in the EU); and
• 2,4-Dinitrotoluene - 2,4-DNT (carcinogen), a substance mainly used in explosives and propellants for ammunition.
Health, Environmental Risks Cited
“The protection of human health and the environment is at the heart of REACH,” ECHA said in a statement. “Making these eight substances of very high concern (SVHCs) subject to authorization seeks to ensure that their risks are properly controlled and that the substances are progressively replaced.”
This is only the second time since REACH began that ECHA has recommended substances for the Annex XIV list.
ECHA held a 2½-month public comment period before making its recommendation. It also considered the opinion of its 30-member Member State Committee, which adopted the recommendation on Dec. 3.