UK Government to introduce limits for drugs in blood in England and Wales for drivers by Nick Boley

The UK Government has introduced legislation (SI 2868/2014) to establish drug-driving limits for 16 controlled drugs in blood in England and Wales.

The drugs covered by this legislation, which comes into force on 2 March 2015, includes both illicit drugs and prescription drugs. The list also includes benzoylecgonine (BZE) which is a metabolite indicative of cocaine use.

The full list, together with the limits in blood (in µg/L) is as follows:

Controlled drug                                              Limit
Benzoylecgonine                                              50
Clonazepam                                                       50
Cocaine                                                                10
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol                     2
Diazepam                                                          550
Flunitrazepam                                                 300
Ketamine                                                            20
Lorazepam                                                       100
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide                             1
Methadone                                                        500
Methylamphetamine                                        10
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine              10
6-Monoacetylmorphine                                    5
Morphine                                                             80
Oxazepam                                                         300
Temazepam                                                     1000

Forensic toxicology laboratories will need to be able to measure these drugs in blood using validated and accredited procedures accurately at these levels in order to play their part in the enforcement of this legislation.

The development of robust and effective roadside testing procedures to aid the police in enforcement is also something which should, ideally, be addressed in the short-term so that an equivalent system to that currently in place for the enforcement of drink-driving legislation can be instituted.


European Commission asks Member States for Fracking Information by Nick Boley
October 27, 2014, 12:59
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, EU Information, Waste, Water | Tags: , , , ,

The European Commission have reminded Member State Governments of the need to respond to a questionnaire to inform DG Environment of the measures being taken surrounding any intention to permit exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

This follows on from a Commission Recommendation which discusses the minimum principles on this subject, and was issued in January 2014.

The questionnaire contains a wide range of questions, but some of them have a definite analytical measurement direction. For example, one of the issues raised in question 6.2 is whether baseline values for the presence of methane and other volatile organic compounds in water would be determined prior to operations commencing. Question 10.1 asks whether measures are in place to ensure that manufacturers, importers and downstream users refer to “hydraulic fracturing” when complying with their obligations under REACH Regulation – specifically with regards to chemical substances used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. Two points raised in question 11.3 ask whether measures are in place to ensure operators measure the precise composition of the fracturing fluid used for each well, and air emissions of methane, other volatile organic compounds and other gases that are likely to have harmful effects on human health and/or the environment. Question 15 asks whether measures are in place to ensure that the operator publicly disseminates information on the chemical substances and volumes of water that are intended to be used and are finally used for the high-volume hydraulic fracturing of each well, including  listing the names and CAS numbers of all substances and include a safety data sheet, if available, and the substances’ maximum concentration in the fracturing fluid.


ECHA Issues Updated Guidance on Mixtures for Downstream Users by Nick Boley
October 23, 2014, 08:30
Filed under: chemicals, ECHA, REACH/CLP | Tags: , , ,

The European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, has issued revised guidance for downstream users under the REACH Regulation. The revision to the guidance document regarding the concentrations of substance posing human health or environmental hazards,  substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic or very persistent and very bioaccumulative, and substances  of very high concern (SVHCs) included in the Candidate List for authorisation.

The new guidance states clearly the concentrations of these substances in mixtures formulated by downstream users (DUs) above which Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are mandatory, so that the relevant information can be properly communicated along the supply chain.

This may lead, in some cases, to the need for analysis of mixtures to be carried out in order to fully understand the concentrations of any hazardous substances present in the mixture. Such analyses must be accurate at the limits specified, and should therefore be carried out by accredited laboratories using validates test methods.

ECHA Newsletter highlights importance of substance identification by Nick Boley
October 20, 2014, 10:16
Filed under: chemicals, ECHA | Tags: , ,

ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, has published its latest newsletter. A major article in this edition covers the importance of substance identity when in the registration process for REACH.

The article gives excellent guidance on why substance identity is important, and the points which need to be addressed by registrants under REACH in properly describing the substances being registered.

One specific point, hidden near the end of the article, states: “Analytical information about the substance acts as confirmation of the substance identity.” It is welcomed that such a statement is made, as the importance of the analytical method(s) used to correctly determine substance identity, composition and purity are fundamental. This is highlighted in a publication from the Government Chemist in 2012.


Changes to Prior Informed Consent procedure for hazardous chemicals by Nick Boley
October 15, 2014, 13:49
Filed under: chemicals, EU Regulation/Legislation | Tags: , ,

The European Commission has published an update to the Regulation concerning the export and import of hazardous chemicals. Commission Delegated Regulation 1078/2014 amends Annex I to Regulation 649/2012, (Prior Informed Consent or PIC Regulations) which concerns the import and export of hazardous chemicals.

The update lists those hazardous chemicals for which approval for use has been recently withdrawn including bitertanol, which has been banned for use as pesticide, cyhexatin, azocyclotin, cinidon-ethyl, cyclanilide, ethoxysulfuron and oxadiargyl, which are no longer approved as active substances under the Biocidal Products Regulation.

The entry for chlorates in the Regulation has been amended to allow for greater clarity as to what it does and does not cover.

New substances are now also covered by the Regulation and these are azinphos-methyl, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctane sulfonates, perfluorooctane sulfonamides and perfluorooctane sulfonyls.

The unambiguous identification of these chemicals at ports of entry and exit is extremely important as a consequence, in order that appropriate enforcement can be carried out.

Consumer Organisations and NGOs respond to EU Ecolabel Consultation by Nick Boley

The European Commission recently carried out a consultation to support the evaluation of the Implementation of the EU Ecolabel Regulation (EC) 66/2010.

A number of consumer organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) led by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and the European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation
(ANEC) have collated responses to the consultation into a single document, and this makes for interesting reading.

Some specific aspects of interest that these consultees highlighted show that many of them consider that the Ecolabel scheme should concentrate on some key parameters such as packaging, chemicals and forestry (sustainable timber). The report also states that harmonised measurement methods in support of Ecolabel claims are needed. We would support these comments, as validated measurement methods are always necessary to support and enforce any label claim. The Government Chemist is also funding a study to investigate the feasibility of developing methods for differentiating sustainable from non-sustainable timber.

Action sought on poly and perfluoroalkyl substances by Nick Boley
October 8, 2014, 10:15
Filed under: chemicals, Environment/Ecology | Tags: , , ,

A significant number of international scientists, across many disciplines, have drafted a statement “The Madrid Statement” which calls for much greater international cooperation concerning poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Amongst other things the statement calls for greater information on those chemicals used as substitutes for PFAS, to ensure that we are not replacing one group of toxic chemicals with another. There is specific concern about the use of polyfluorinated compounds as alternatives.

One of the more interesting parts of the statement is the call for the development of valid analytical methods for the “identification and quantification of additional families of PFASs, including fluorinated alternatives”. It is refreshing to note the inclusion of something on analytical measurements in a statement of this type, and affords proper recognition to the importance of analytical measurement methodology in monitoring of toxic chemicals in the environment, to underpin regulation and provide evidence of problems and issues.