PAHs to be restricted under REACH by Nick Boley
August 7, 2013, 09:51
Filed under: chemicals, ECHA | Tags: , , , ,

The EU has agreed to restrict polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in a wide range of consumer products including toys, clothing, footwear, gloves and sportswear, sports equipment, household utensils and tools under the REACH legislation. From November, PAHs will only be allowed in these articles at a maximum concentration of 1.0 mg/kg, although a lower limit of 0.5 mg/kg will apply to toys and childcare products. This restriction was brought in under the “fast-track” process within ECHA, following a submission from the German authorities.

The specific PAHs which will be subject to the restriction are:

  • Benzo[a]pyrene,
  • Benzo[e]pyrene,
  •  Benzo[a]anthracene,
  • Chrysene,
  • Benzo[b]fluoranthene,
  • Benzo[j]fluoranthene,
  • Benzo[k]fluoranthene and
  • Dibenzo[a,h]anthracene

Concerns about this restriction had been raised, particularly regarding the analytical methodology to determine these PAHs, an whether existing methods were sufficiently accurate and sensitive for the purpose. Specific concerns include:

  • a lack of clarity on whether the proposed levels are for EACH PAH or TOTAL PAHs
  • three of the PAHs listed – benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(j)fluoranthene and benzo(k)fluoranthene – are almost impossible to separate using GC-MS, which can lead to major problems accurately quantifying these compounds. In the past, in environmental measurement, the sum of these has been quoted by labs that cannot separate them fully. There are claims of new GC columns which can perform this separation fully, but this is certainly not something which is routine use.
  • the actual risk of the PAHs to a child: the extraction procedure in the recommended analytical method extracts PAHs using ultrasonic extraction generating temperatures around 5000K. This does not mimic the conditions of use and how a child handles a toy or other product. Therefore some doubt must be cast on the levels of PAHs which are available by dermal absorption.

This was passed by Qualified Majority Voting with the UK voting against based upon these, and other, concerns.

Some background to this can be found here.


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