New EU Regulation on Persistent Organic Pollutants by Nick Boley
December 18, 2014, 10:22
Filed under: chemicals, Environment/Ecology, EU Regulation/Legislation, Waste | Tags: ,

The European Commission have published a new regulation, 1342/2014, which adds limit values to a number of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) listed in the Stockholm Convention. The POPs concerned are: chlordecone, hexabromobiphenyl, hexachlorocyclohexanes, including lindane, pentachlorobenzene, tetrabromodiphenyl ether, pentabromodiphenyl ether, hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether, and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its derivatives.

These are for articles, where the values are between 15 µg/kg for dioxins and furans, to 50 mg/kg for many other POPs.

Validated analytical methods need to be in place to ensure that this can be enforced, and the limits are such that this is not an issue.



ECHA Issues PIC Guidance by Nick Boley
December 15, 2014, 12:42
Filed under: chemicals, ECHA, EU Information | Tags: ,

ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, has published a guidance document  which explains the obligations under the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation and gives advice on how to comply with them. The PIC Regulation (EU 649/2012) enforces the Rotterdam Convention on toxic and hazardous chemicals and regulates trade in these substances.

In order to comply with the guidance from ECHA, companies trading in these chemicals as well as enforcement authorities, need to be able to unambiguously identify them. This requires that appropriate laboratory testing may need to be available to confirm the identity of any substance which falls under the scope of this Regulation, and the Convention.

Eco-labelling criteria for ‘Rinse-off cosmetic products’ established by Nick Boley
December 12, 2014, 11:58
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, EU Information, EU Regulation/Legislation | Tags: ,

The European Commission have published ecological criteria for the award of the EU Ecolabel for rinse-off cosmetic products.

Amongst the criteria listed are substances which may not be included in these products, either as part of the product formulation or as part of any mixture within the formulation.  These substances are:

(i) Alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEOs) and other alkyl phenol derivatives;
(ii) Nitrilo-tri-acetate (NTA);
(iii) Boric acid, borates and perborates;
(iv) Nitromusks and polycyclic musks;
(v) Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4);
(vi) Butylated Hydroxy Toluene (BHT);

(vii) Ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA) and its salts and non-readily biodegradable phosphonates;
(viii) The following preservatives: triclosan, parabens, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers.
(ix) The following fragrances and ingredients of the fragrance mixtures: Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde (HICC), Atranol and Chloroatranol;
(x) Micro-plastics;
(xi) Nanosilver.

This list demands that validated methods are available in accredited laboratories to measure and identify these substances accurately in order to demonstrate compliance. These should be readily available in many cases, but the determination of nanosilver remains a potential problem. It is also important to note that these substances should not be present; we have to understand the limits of detection for these, so we know the maximum concentrations that may be present in compliant products.





New drink-drive limits in Scotland by Nick Boley
December 8, 2014, 10:26
Filed under: transport, UK Government Information | Tags: , ,

The Scottish Government have introduced a lower alcohol limit for drivers on 5 December (SSI 328/2014). This differentiates Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom in that the legal maximum alcohol level in blood has fallen, for blood,  from 80 mg per 100 mL to 50 mg per 100 mL, for urine from 107 mg per 100 mL to 67 mg per 100 mL, and for breath from 35 µg per 100 mL to 22 µg per 100 mL.

This brings Scotland into line with a significant number of EU countries. In order to enforce this new legislation, forensic laboratories will need to amend their measurement methods in order to accurately determine, with a known uncertainty of measurement, alcohol in blood and urine at these new , lower, levels. This will not present any challenges, and certified reference materials (CRMs) containing alcohol at these levels to support these measurements are already widely available. Roadside testing equipment used by Police Scotland must also be ale to cope with these changes, and CRMs are also widely available at the lower levels to calibrate and validate the equipment used, for example from LGC Standards.

A specific concern to may in Scotland now is the “morning-after” effect, when alcohol level residues from the previous day could render drivers over the new limit where they would not have been previously. Some companies have been marketing products for use by drivers to check their status in the morning, such as Alcosense™, specifically aimed at Scotland and the new lower level. These check the breath alcohol level, convert to blood alcohol level, and are for guidance. They have no legal status. The principle on which these devices work is similar to the roadside devices used by the police. They have been shown to have high precision, i.e. they are consistent. However, no data has ever been produced to demonstrate their absolute accuracy although anecdotally they appear to give expected results based on intake. The accuracy claims of manufacturers need to be understood by the user. Accuracy to 0.2 % blood alcohol level (equivalent to 20 mg per 100 mL blood) may look very impressive, but for the new Scottish law equates to a relative potential error of ± 40 %. So, if it reads 0.3 % you may be OK, you may not. If it reads 0.7 % you are probably not OK, but on the other hand you may be just OK. This has the effect of building in a safety margin, but the interpretation of the data, as with any handheld device for personal measurement of anything (e.g. cholesterol, blood sugar), is key and the responsibility ultimately lies with the user.




Should authorisation of SVHCs in articles extend to imports? by Nick Boley
December 5, 2014, 11:04
Filed under: chemicals, REACH/CLP | Tags: , , ,

Well, yes, say the German authorities. They believe that consumer protection can be strengthened by applying the same rules on imported products containing substances of very high concern (SVHCs) as those produced and placed on the market  within the EU.

Such changes would present a significant challenge to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in terms of the legal  situation, and to produce appropriate regulation, but would allow for a levelling of the playing field, and removing unfair advantages to importers who can get away with not fully complying with REACH.

Such a move would require more testing for SVHCs in articles, to check that labelling claims are correct, and this would obviously require enforcement laboratories to have a suite of validated, accredited measurement methods available for the range of SVHCs which could be encountered.

Advice to Local Authorities on Oil Spill sample handling and collection by Nick Boley
December 4, 2014, 14:24
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, UK Government Information | Tags: ,

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has published a STOP (Scientific, Technical and Operational) Advice Note to Local Authorities on oil spill sample handling and collection.

This note is aimed at giving guidance and describing procedures on how local authority officers should proceed in taking samples from oil, or chemical, spills, and how to handle any samples taken.

The guidance highlights the information which should be provided to help with any subsequent analysis to identify the nature of the spill, and lays down procedures on labelling of samples and sealing them into secure bags. This is of particular importance in demonstrating continuity of evidence if legal proceedings are taken and it is essential that in can be proved that samples have not been tampered with.


New CEN Publications: November 2014 by Nick Boley
December 3, 2014, 08:53
Filed under: CEN Standards | Tags:

The following list shows standards and technical documents published by the European Standardisation Organisation, CEN, during November 2014, some of which are relevant to chemical measurement in support of regulation.

EN 15346:2014 – Plastics: Recycled plastics – Characterization of poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC) recyclates.

EN 15195:2014 – Liquid petroleum products: Determination of ignition delay and derived cetane number (DCN) of middle distillate fuels by combustion in a constant volume chamber.

EN 16576:2014 – Automotive fuels: Determination of manganese and iron content in diesel – Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP OES) method.

EN ISO 10370:2014 – Petroleum products: Determination of carbon residue – Micro method.

CEN/TR 10317:2014 – European certified reference materials (EURONORM-CRMs) for the determination of the chemical composition of iron and steel products prepared under the auspices of the European Committee for Iron and Steel Standardization (ECISS).

CEN/TR 10362:2014 – Chemical analysis of ferrous materials – Determination of selenium in steels – Electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometric method.

EN ISO 17982-1:2014 – Geotechnical investigation and testing: Laboratory testing of soil – Part 1: Determination of water content.

EN ISO 12966-1:2014 – Animal and vegetable fats and oils: Gas chromatography of fatty acid methyl esters – Part 1: Guidelines on modern gas chromatography of fatty acid methyl esters.