Progress in dispute over levels of SVHCs in articles by Nick Boley
September 27, 2013, 08:31
Filed under: ECHA, EU Information, REACH/CLP | Tags: , ,

There has been some activity in the long-running dispute within the EU regarding how to calculate the level of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) in articles.  The European Commission have written to those Member States disagreeing with the guidance issued by ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency.

Delegates attending the Government Chemist Advisory Seminar in February 2012 on REACH and CLP in the vehicle and construction sectors will recall that this issue was raised by more than one speaker. It centres around the fact that 5 Member States – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Sweden – consider the guidance given by ECHA is incorrect. Whereas the ECHA guidance states that an SVHC at a concentration of greater than 0.1% by weight in an article will require the article to be notified under Article 7(2) of REACH, these 5 Member States (plus non-EU Norway) believe that the 0.1% threshold applies to all components of the article. This means that if any component of the final product (= article) contains an SVHC above 0.1% by weight, then the product needs to be notified. This approach could relate to more articles being notified, although the OVERALL concentration of SVHC is less than the threshold.

There is an analytical measurement dimension to this. The level of laboratory work required to measure SVHCs in each individual component of  an article is greater than that if the article as a whole is taken. Of course, in some cases individual components do have to be taken for analysis, and we need to consider in such a case that the summation of all individual measurement to arrive at an overall SVHC level will have a significantly higher uncertainty due to the combination of all measurement uncertainties from each component.

The 5 Member States have now replied to the Commission, which is now studying these to decide if a breach of Treaty rules has occurred, and whether further action is necessary.

It will be interesting to see how this situation develops.


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