European Commission publishes list of plant protection product active substances for substitution by Nick Boley

The European Commission has published a Regulation which details those active substances in plant protection products should be considered in the future to be substituted in view of their potentially toxic properties.

Commission Implementing Regulation 2015/408  lists a significant number of active substances which are considered to either be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBTs) or have endocrine-disrupting properties (EDCs).

The regulation comes into force on 1 August 2015, and has implications for laboratory measurements as this range of substances – which covers many different classes of chemical, both inorganic and organic, to be identified and measured in order to ascertain if they are present in any plant protection product.


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.


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.





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.


EU Report highlights silver threat to environment by Nick Boley
November 21, 2014, 15:18
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, EU Research, Nanomaterials | Tags: , ,

The European Commission has published a report in their Science For Environment News Alert, which highlights the concern over the fate of nanoparticulate silver (nano-silver) which is released into the aquatic environment. Nano-silver is used very effectively as a bactericide in many clothing products, particularly socks. They are considered to be anti-microbials, in that they release silver ions which inhibit bacterial and microbial growth.

However, it is this very behaviour which has prompted this concern. The propensity of nano-silver to release ionic silver is damaging to the environment as it is now widely thought that ionic silver is significantly more toxic to the aquatic environment than uncharged nanoparticles of silver.

In order to gain a more robust assessment of the environmental threat from silver, researchers do need to be able to measure levels of both charged ionic silver, and uncharged nano-silver. Measuring total silver will not enable ecotoxicologists to obtain an accurate picture of the ionic silver load to the environment. Differentiating between the two forms is essential, therefore, and we believe that work should be undertaken to achieve this; we do not believe that this task is impossible. Work should commence within LGC on this in the near future.

Fracking chemicals – EU developments by Nick Boley

As the possibility of large-scale commercial hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Europe edges closer, a  generic exposure scenario (GES) is being drawn up by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), the European Oilfield Specialty Chemicals Association (Eosca) and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). This has been discussed by the EU’s Competent Authorities for REACH and CLP (Caracal) recently.

There is currently no requirement under REACH for dossiers for substances used in fracking operations to specifically include references to their use in fracking.

The industry group is also preparing a background document which will describe, in simple terms, the main steps in fracking, and will include current available data on potential emissions and exposure from each step. This will include a generic list of fracking additives, stating their type or function.

It will be important, going forward, to ensure that these additives, and all potentially harmful substances, used in fracking operations, can be measured accurately and down to environmentally sensitive low concentrations, in order that the consequences of this technology can be monitored and the environment and public safety appropriately protected as a result.


UK seeks restriction on D4 and D5 by Nick Boley
November 11, 2014, 11:29
Filed under: ECHA, Environment/Ecology | Tags: , ,

The UK Government has requested that two siloxanes commonly used in personal care product, namely octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4) and decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5) be subject to restriction under REACH. A proposal will be submitted in January 2015, based upon the UK competent authority’s research which shows that these compounds are persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment.  It is particularly concerned about the release of these siloxanes into freshwater, leading to a build-up in sediments.

This will be a complex submission, and therefore the European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, has announced that this will be looked at, unusually, by both the Member States Committee (MSC) and the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) in the first instance, due to its complexity. The background to this is shown here. Manufacturers and importers who have registered these substances with ECHA under REACH dispute that they are persistent and bioaccumulative.

These two substances can be measured in environmental materials – in the USA, the Environmental Protection Agency can determine D4 at levels of 0.037 µg/L by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).