New Drug Drive legislation for March 2015 by Nick Boley

New legislation which covers the subject of drug driving come into force in the UK on 2 March 2015. This legislation, published by the Department of Transport, aim to improve road safety by setting limits for the levels of 8 illicit drugs and 8 prescriptions drugs in the bloodstream. These are set so that levels above are associated with impairment to drive. The levels for the illicit drugs are very low, but those for the prescription drugs (clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, methadone and morphine) are much higher to reflect average to above-average prescription use so that those drivers keeping to any prescribed dose would be safely below the legal limits.

There is also a proposal to add amphetamine at a level of 250 µg/L to the new legislation – this level is sufficiently high not to catch legitimate users of amphetamine for medical purposes (e.g. those suffering with ADHD).

The Government Chemist responded to a consultation issued in 2014 by the Department of Transport and the response can be accessed here. One of our major concerns is that for legislation like this to be fully effective, measures need to be in place similar to those for drink-driving such as validated roadside tests and certified reference materials (CRMs) to underpin laboratory measurements for drugs in blood. The measurement uncertainties associated with many of these measurements are significantly higher than those associated with alcohol in blood measurements, and these can, in turn, lead to higher uncertainty in the interpretation of results. This is an issue which does, in our opinion, need to be properly resolved for the legislation to have the effect for which it was designed.


CLP Regulation update published in UK by Nick Boley
January 20, 2015, 08:48
Filed under: chemicals, REACH/CLP, transport, UK Legislation | Tags: , , ,

An amendment to the existing UK legislation covering the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of chemicals has been published. The Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals (Amendments to Secondary Legislation) Regulations 2015 (SI 21) has a wide-reaching effect.

This new SI fully implements Regulation EC 1272/2008 (the CLP Regulation), and takes into account the number of other Directives which are affected by CLP legislation in the EU. They also amend the provisions as they apply to merchant shipping, and apply UK-wide. They also amend the UK REACH legislation (S.I. 2008/2852; amended by S.I. 2009/238 (Northern Ireland) and S.I. 2009/716), adding a new sub-paragraph (1ka)  in Part 1 of Schedule 3 to give the definition of a hazardous substance or mixture in line with CLP regulations.

The Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2009 (known as CHIP), which implemented Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, are revoked by Regulation 36 of the Biocidal Products and Chemicals (Appointment of Authorities and Enforcement) Regulations 2013, as a result of this legislation.

This comes into effect on 31 May and 1 June 2015.

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.




Environment Agency published Biodiesel Quality Protocol by Nick Boley
November 26, 2014, 13:14
Filed under: Fuels, transport, UK Government Information, Waste | Tags: ,

The Environment Agency has published a new Biodiesel Quality Protocol which lays down when a biodiesel product made from waste oil is no longer a waste product.

It makes clear which waste products can be used (waste oil from cooking, rendered animal fats and waste oils no longer fit for consumption) and reminds producers of the testing regime which needs to be adhered to: the first batch produced, in order to show that the quality standard is being reached, and thence one in every ten batches, and at least once per month. Each batch must also be tested in-house and samples kept for 3 months in case further testing or examination is required.

BS EN 14214:202 must be used for this. This, amongst other things, lays down the testing procedure to be used for fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis.

Amendment to Sulphur in Liquid Fuels Regulations published by Nick Boley

The UK Government has published the Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 1975/2014), which amends the Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (SI 79/2007).

This amendment, which had previously been enacted in Northern Ireland by the Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 (SR 147), restricts the sulphur content of heavy fuel oils to 1 % by mass, and the sulphur content of gas oils to 0.1 % by mass. It also deletes the previous schedule 8 “technical requirements for sample analysis”. Schedule 6 is amended as follows: “The reference method adopted for determining the sulphur content of fuels sampled pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be defined by ISO method 8754 (2003) or EN ISO 14596 (2007).”

ISO 8754:2003 covers the determination of the sulphur content of fuels by energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and has a working range of 0.03 % to 5% sulphur by mass.

EN ISO 14596:2007  covers the determination of the sulphur content of fuels and fuel additives by wavelength-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and has a working range of 0.001 % to 2.5 % sulphur by mass.

EFSA completes evaluations of previous cargoes by Nick Boley
December 19, 2012, 09:26
Filed under: transport | Tags: , ,

EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, has concluded its evaluation of substances which can be used as “previous cargoes” in bulk tanks on tanker vessels, i.e. those which can be used before the tanks are used for the transport of (edible) bulk oils and fats. These are listed in the Annex to Commission Directive 96/3/EC. The review was carried out by EFSA’s CONTAM Panel.

Substances which can no longer be considered as “previous Cargoes” in this context include calcium lignosulphonate, silicon dioxide, carnauba wax, wine lees and montan wax. Those which were considered safe included sodium silicate solution (water glass), iso-octanol, iso-nonanol, iso-decanol, 1,3-propanediol, isobutyl acetate, sec-butyl acetate, tert-butyl acetate, n-butyl acetate, propylene tetramer, paraffin wax, candelilla wax, white mineral oils and glycerol.

The report can be found here.