Several chemicals used in protective coatings, corrosion control or coatings removal face bans in Europe, after the European Chemicals Agency has tagged them as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC).
Meanwhile, Beryllium, used in aerospace and x-ray applications, has triggered a federal alert in the United States.
ECHA Targets 7 Chemicals
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has identified the anti-corrosive pigment Strontium Chromate, the paint stripper chemical NMP, and five other chemicals as Substances of Very High Concern. The action paves the way for European regulators to ban the chemicals unless their risks can be proved to be adequately controlled, or there is no feasible substitute and the benefits justify the risk.
The proposal contains phthalates and glycol ethers, as well as some potentially difficult-to-replace chemicalsI
If the proposal is approved, the ripple effects could reach the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency and ECHA recently formed a partnership to “share knowledge and exchange experience and best practice” on chemical management activities.
The agreement establishes cooperation on a range of technical issues, including toxicity testing, the hazard and risk assessment of chemicals, risk management tools and scientific collaboration.
The new ECHA list includes:
Strontium chromate, a yellow pigment and corrosion inhibitor, is used mainly in paint primer for aerospace applications. It is also used as a coating in buildings and vehicles. It shares the carcinogenic properties of almost all hexavalent chromium compounds (the “Erin Brockovich chemical“).
Strontium Chromate is under
the gun in Europe.
Between 900 and 2,000 tons of strontium chromate are used in the European Union each year; about 9,000 tons are produced globally each year.
Because the pigment is used almost exclusively as an undercoating, consumers are generally not exposed during the product use part of the lifecycle. However, loss of adhesion and flaking can lead to its release, and handling at the end-of-life is critical to adequately manage the waste. Because of its anti-corrosion power, this chemical is considered critical in applications where surfaces are not accessible for routine maintenance and inspection.
NMP is used in professional/industrial paint stripping or degreasing and other applications. Consumers may be exposed to the chemical in consumer paint strippers.
The listing as an SVHC will help protect industrial and professional users, but substitution will be very difficult. This universal solvent has a high “loading capacity,” which means that more of a substitute will be needed to do the same work; even the touted water-based systems often rely on some NMP in the solvent fraction.
This finds wide use in chemical syntheses as an agent to force organic chemicals to react. Traces may remain in polyurethane resins after polymerization reactions relying on hydrazine. These uses as an intermediate in chemical syntheses are exempt from control under authorization laws.
Therefore, the listing as a SVHC would control other uses such as corrosion inhibition and plating on plastics.
Hydrazine will be difficult to replace where it is used as a corrosion inhibitor in cooling water systems or industrial manufacturing applications like steel, or pulp and paper manufacturing, ECHA said. These industries have already moved to control risks by minimizing the concentrations used, and storage quantities.
The other chemicals targeted are:
• 2-ethoxyethyl acetate, or 2-EEA, which no longer has any major uses in Europe.
• 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, di-C7-11 -branched and linear alkyl esters (DHNUP), a phthalate plasticizer used mainly in coatings for electrical and communications cables, as well as in finished goods containing polyvinyl chlorides (PVC) or foam, in sealants and adhesives.
• 1,2,3-trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP), a chlorinated solvent primarily used in the manufacture of pesticides, chlorinated solvents, and cross-linking agents.
• 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, di-C6-8-branched alkyl esters, C7-rich (DIHP), a phthalate plasticizer used mainly in vinyl flooring and moldings. Manufacture has been discontinued in Europe, was stopped in the U.S. in 2010, and is believed to have stopped in Asia as well. However, recent registrations and notifications for import of the chemical leave some doubt about this, so the listing as an SVHC should clear up the matter.
SVHC are substances that are: Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic to Reproduction (CMR); Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) or very Persistent and very Bioaccumulative (vPvB); or identified on a case-by-case basis as causing probable serious effects to human health.
Comments on the proposal will be accepted through April 7. Comments should focus on the identification of the substance as SVHC as well as further information related to use, exposure, alternatives and risks.