Novel RMs produced to support WFD analyses by Nick Boley

Scientists at the European Commission’s Joint Research Laboratory (JRC), based in Geel (Belgium) have developed a series of three water reference materials (RMs) containing priority hazardous substances (PHS) as defined under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). These three novel materials contain:

  1. eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),
  2. six polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and
  3. tributyltin

A recent report published under the Government Chemist’s Advisory Function on analytical measurement issues in relation to the WFD highlighted the dearth of reference materials to support laboratories carrying out monitoring of water bodies in support of the WFDs. These new materials provide an extremely welcome development to help and support monitoring laboratories in carrying out these measurements accurately and precisely at the very low concentrations required.


Data sought by European Commission on nano ingredients in cosmetics by Nick Boley
March 31, 2015, 08:24
Filed under: Cosmetics, EU Information, Nanomaterials | Tags: , ,

The European Commission has asked for more detailed toxicity data on three nano ingredients which are quite commonly used in cosmetics.

The three substances are:

  • nano collodial silver;
  • nano styrene/acrylates copolymer; and
  • nano sodium styrene/acrylates copolymer.

Nano colloidal silver is used as an antimicrobial, has a lowest cut off particle size of 1 nm and a maximum concentration up to 1.0 % in cosmetic products. Although the toxicity data needs to be more detailed, there is still a difficulty in accurately characterising and measuring the concentration of nano-colloidal silver, with robust validated methods not being available.

Similar problems exist for the nano-forms of the two copolymers.



Definitive ruling on SVHC in Articles issue by Nick Boley
February 19, 2015, 09:59
Filed under: chemicals, ECHA, EU Information, REACH/CLP | Tags: ,

The Advocate General to the European Court of Justice, a senior legal advisor, has issued a ruling stating that companies (manufacturers and importers) have an obligation under REACH to report the presence of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) in articles and this applies to all components incorporated into articles, not the whole article. REACH Article 33 states that companies must inform the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) if an SVHC is present, totalling over one tonne per producer or importer per year, in a concentration higher than 0.1 % by weight.

A number of member states have considered that the obligations under REACH for companies only applied to the whole (e.g. finished) article. A good example of this would be a car, where SVHCs may be found in some specific components at appropriate concentrations, but overall would be significantly lower.

This means that companies in all member states will need to ascertain the levels of SVHCs in all components used in the assembly of any product, which will require a greater breadth of analytical testing in many cases.

Outputs of ECHA Nanomaterials Workshop Available by Nick Boley
February 17, 2015, 16:34
Filed under: ECHA, EU Information, Nanomaterials | Tags: , ,

The presentations given at a nanomaterials workshop held at the ECHA premises in Helsinki in October 2014 are now available on the ECHA website. The workshop, “Regulatory Challenges in Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials”  covered a range of topics, with a wide range of speakers and delegates attending.  One of the themes which emerged from the workshop was that of the need for measurement strategies to be able to identify nanomaterials according to the proposed EU definition: a material with 50 % or more of particles, by number size distribution, having a size between 1 nm-100 nm. This is needed before risk assessments can be carried out, so we know we are dealing with nanoscale materials specifically.

Some information was presented on methods for characterising and measuring nanoparticles which had been carried out under the EU Framework Programme 7 NanoReg 2 project.

It is encouraging to see that work is progressing towards  metrologically-sound methods being developed for characterisation and measurement of nanomaterials, and that attention is being paid to the practical aspects of defining nanomaterials as part of the overall risk assessment and regulatory process.



Chromium (VI) levels in toys set to be lowered by Nick Boley
February 12, 2015, 10:58
Filed under: EU Information, Toxicology, Toys | Tags: , ,

The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) has proposed that the levels of  Chromium (VI) available by migration from toys be further lowered.

The proposed values are:

  • 0.0094 mg/kg for scraped-off toy materials;
  • 0.0008 mg/kg for dry, (powder-like or pliable) toy materials; and
  • 0.0002 mg/kg for liquid or sticky toy materials

These values are extremely low, and are in fact below the levels at which chromium (VI) can be measured in the laboratory. Chromium (VI) is a very difficult species to measure, and it is only in recent years that methods capable of separating the more toxic hexavalent form from the more common trivalent form have been developed.
There is a school of thought that instituting a limit value below that which can be measured should not happen and that it would be more sensible to have a limit value equivalent to the best available limit of quantification (LOQ), which can of course be lowered as advances in measurement capability develop.

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.