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ISSUE 74 page 7

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Health & Safety
Bisphenol A goes to head of EU toxics queue
 THE CHEMICAL BISPHENOL A (BPA), WHICH IS ALREADY BANNED FROM babies’ bottles, is likely to have more severe restrictions placed upon its use by the European Commission in the near future. Widely used in metal food cans and water bottles, the substance can also be found in a range of products including flooring, furniture, toys, construction materials, footwear, leather products, paper and board, and electronic equipment. Several officials from Member States have now backed a proposal to classify BPA as a category 1B substance, endocrine-disrupting and toxic for reproductiion. Chemicals in this bracket can be banned from use in consumer products in the EU via a simplified procedure outside the usual REACH
PlasBots
Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) process (see below). Sweden had previously criticised the Commission for delaying new criteria for identifying endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) (see issue 67). However it will now send a proposed regulation to the European Parliament for approval which should enter into force about 18 months later. The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) pressure group believes BPA ‘is a highly dangerous chemical health and that of future generations’. Major chemical companies such as 3M, BASF and DuPont are listed as suppliers of the chemical and many have, so far, merely replaced it with other bisphenols that are just as harmful.

Refillable plastic water bottles often contain BPA

 

 

Battle over implementation as new SVHCs considered

THE PROGRAMME TO FIND ALL THE chemicals in the EU whose use should be restricted rolls on but the recent court decision on the toxic 0.1% (see our last issue) has sparked a delaying action by industry. In December another five toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic chemicals were announced as candidates for inclusion in the Authorisation List. If they make it they cannot be used without the say-so of the European Commission based on the opinion of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). At the same time the bodies representing the car industry are urging the authorities not to apply the restriction to each part of a vehicle until the ECHA has completed a lengthy revision of its guidance. A forum of EU national enforcement authorities said it was ‘committed to co-ordinated enforcement’ of the new legal ruling and the ECHA has promised a ‘fast track’ revision. Similar arguments go on at national level. In France the government has submitted titanium dioxide for consideration by the EU while the Manufacturers Association (TDMA) replied that it had already assessed the substance in 2010 when studies of 20,000 workers in 15 titanium dioxide manufacturing plants showed no adverse health effects from occupational exposure. In Sweden the Chemicals Agency, Kemi, has proposed that the country take the initiative in regulating hazardous substances used in building products and textiles not covered under the EU’s REACH legislation which it described as ‘fragmented’. REACH aims to have all dangerous chemicals on the Candidates’ list by 2020.

New study aims to evaluate nano risk as register flops

THE POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF NANOS, microscopically-altered materials that have now been manufactured for about twelve years (see issue 68), are still largely unknown. Although trade unions have long insisted that ‘no data = no exposure’ is the way to deal with workplace health and safety concerns, there is still a lack of evidence on which to base a sensible policy. A new project headquartered in Germany now joins the field of those trying to close this gap. NanoToxClass, partly funded by the EU’s research programme, will use modern genome techniques to try and classify nanomaterials based on their potential hazards to human health. It will particularly focus on categorising industrially relevant nanomaterials. If successful the project should reduce the costs of assessing nanos as it will no longer be necessary to individually test each new nano-product.
The ‘burden of health assessment’ as it seems to be regarded by many companies was brought home to the Danish authorities recently when the first deadline for reporting the use of nanos was passed. Despite registration being mandatory and the exemption of many substances such as inks, dyes and paints, only eight firms submitted information in time. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that many multi-nationals do not see the law of a relatively small country as important for their worldwide operations and would be more likely to comply with an EU-wide register. The Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA) estimated the administrative burdens on businesses to be as high as 62.3m Danish krone last year but most of this was spent on finding out what they were supposed to report rather than on the actual costs of the registration process itself.

NanoTube

A carbon nano-tube




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