EU Chemicals regulatory news, 22 February 2018
ECHA's enforcement project finds high rate of non-compliance with, inter alia, levels of phthalates in toys
An enforcement project conducted by national authorities through ECHA's Enforcement Forum found a high rate of non-compliance with REACH restrictions for hundreds of consumer products. National inspectors carried targeted checks on more than 5,600 products, of which closer to 20 per cent were found to have contained too high levels of chemical substances for which restrictions have been adopted pursuant to the REACH Regulation.
In particular, around 20 per cent of toys inspected as part of the enforcement project were found to have contained phthalates above permitted levels. Similarly, the levels of chromium VI in leather articles and cadmium in jewellery exceeded the permitted levels in a high number of cases (13 and 12 per cent, respectively).
ECHA adopts recommendation for the inclusion of seven substances to the REACH Authorisation List
In its Eight Recommendation, adopted on 5 February 2018, ECHA has proposed the inclusion of seven substances of very high concern (SVHC) to the REACH Authorisation List. One of these substances is used as fragrance in soaps and detergents, another as UV stabiliser in plastic products, rubber and coatings, and yet another as plasticiser in PVC compounds. The seven substances have been prioritised by reason of their intrinsic properties, together with high volumes and widespread uses.
Interestingly, for three of the recommended substances there are no registered uses in the EEA but as potential substitutes to another substance, the recommendation seeks to prevent unwelcome substitution. The final decision on the inclusion of these substances to the Authorisation List will be taken by the European Commission, in cooperation with the Member States and the European Parliament.
New stricter limits for Bisphenol A in Food Contact Materials
The European Commission has adopted stricter migration limits for Bisphenol A ("BPA") in food contact materials ("FCM"). The new migration limit, which will be applied as of 6 September 2018, has been lowered to 0.05mg of BPA per kilogram of food, from the current 0.6 mg. As regards foodstuffs aimed at children under the age of three, the applicable migration limit is zero and the use of BPA is to be prohibited in the manufacture of infant "sippy" cups.
BPA is used in the production of polycarbonate plastic, a durable plastic used in various food contact applications, such as water dispensers and in coatings for food and drink cans. Both ECHA and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) agree that evidence indicates BPA having endocrine disrupting properties, that is, it interferes with the body's natural hormone system.
In a separate move, the European Commission has proposed a revision of the EU's Drinking Water Directive. Amongst the proposed changes, which aim at modernising the Drinking Water Directive adopted 20 years ago, is the introduction of limit values for three endocrine disrupting chemicals, including BPA. This move follows recommendations adopted by the World Health Organisation and the application of the precautionary principle.
Cosmetics: Legal proceedings instituted against major cosmetic manufacturers for failure to properly label nanomaterials in their products
In January 2018, the French regulator (Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes, DGCCRF) published findings from an inspection conducted in 2017. According to the regulator, 35 cosmetic products, out of 40 cosmetic products inspected, contained nanomaterials but the existence of nanomaterials was not indicated in the labelling.
The legal actions raised against a number of household names are based on separate findings from testing commissioned by the French consumer NGO, UFC-Que Choisir. The NGO claims infringement of the EU's Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 insofar as nanomaterials must be labelled amongst the ingredients with the mention "(nano)" contained after the name of the specific substance. Also, colourants, preservatives and UV-filters must be explicitly authorised, including those in nano-form. The NGO has also called on the DGCCRF and the French Finance Minister to publish a black list of infringing products and to take effective action against the producers.