Fourth EU priority chemical list approved

Thirty new substances to be assessed for risk under 1993 "existing substances" regulation

A new priority list of chemicals targeted for detailed risk assessments under the EU's existing chemicals evaluation process has been agreed by EU member states. The list of 30 chemicals is expected to be endorsed by the European Commission soon and will bring to 140 the number of substances under investigation. All 30 assessments have a "high likelihood" of being followed by control measures, according to Commission officials.

The list of substances and the "rapporteur" countries assigned to carry out the assessments has not been released. However, ENDS Daily has learned that it includes four nickel compounds, four amines, two fluorine compounds and three phosphate flame retardants, as well as boric acid and sodium hydroxide.

The EU established three priority chemicals lists in 1994, 1995 and 1997 under the existing substances regulation of 1993. This is intended to evaluate risks posed by the most dangerous of the 100,000 or so chemicals put on the EU market before a harmonised authorisation procedure was put in place in 1981. Only nine risk assessments have been completed so far (ENDS Daily 23 May). Up to 25 more are expected to be finalised this year.

A Commission official told ENDS Daily today that all substances on the new, fourth priority list of chemicals, which was approved on 31 May, were of "real concern" and had been highlighted as "problematic for man and the environment". All had a "high expected regulatory outcome," something which had not always been the case in previous lists.

Phosphate flame retardants have been included because they are potential substitutes for more established brominated flame retardants, some of which have been targeted for phase-out under the new draft EU electroscrap directive (ENDS Daily 13 June). One, pentabromodiphenyl ether (PeBDE), is soon expected to be subject to more general restrictions.

However, lead is not included because no EU country wanted to take on what would be a highly politically charged assessment. The lead industry has protested against proposed phase-outs of the metal in cars and electronics without full risk assessments. A Commission scientific committee recently rejected Danish attempts at a phase-out in all products (ENDS Daily 7 June).

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111.

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