Industry proposes EU chemicals review changes

Firms offer to take over risk assessments, seek ongoing primacy of current EU regulation

European chemical firms have made specific proposals for greater industry involvement in an EU programme to assess risks of "existing" chemicals, ENDS Daily has learned. The suggestions are contained in an unpublished letter from the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) to the European Commission. The letter responds to a review of EU chemicals legislation being undertaken by the Commission's environment directorate, DGXI (ENDS Daily 14 September).

The association proposes several changes to improve implementation of the EU regulation on existing chemicals assessment. Its central suggestion is for industry to take on a "key role" in the provision of data and of "initial risk assessments". The Commission and EU "rapporteur" member states would then "review/validate" this work.

Up to now, EU rapporteur states have been responsible for risk assessments under the existing substances review programme, which is widely seen as failing to deliver. An EU policy review was launched at the request of environment ministers earlier this year (ENDS Daily 27 April).

In its first formal response, Cefic stresses its "particular involvement" in the existing substances regulation. It expresses the hope that a more efficient EU process for assessing and managing chemical risks will lead - over time - to an increase in public confidence.

At least 900 chemicals used in quantities of more than 1,000 tonnes per year could be covered in an accelerated risk assessment programme spearheaded by industry, Cefic suggests. This represents the number of so-called "high-production volume" (HPV) chemicals that have wide dispersive or consumer use and that therefore justify priority attention, it says. Low-production volume (LPV) substances of concern on "environmental" lists such as under the Ospar convention could also be included.

Cefic says it will ask its members to provide basic data on all the substances to be included in the programme within "an agreed limited period". "Exposure" should be used as a key criterion for selecting a priority list of chemicals requiring in-depth risk assessment, the association suggests.

The pledge to provide basic and hazard data will be aided by a recent decision by the International Council of Chemical Associations to set up a global chemical industry initiative to provide information on a priority list of 1,000 substances.

Cefic's offer of greater industry effort in EU chemicals assessment appears to carry a price. An "up-front requirement" for improving the programme is that the existing substances regulation "is used as the sole basis within the EU for the assessment of risks associated with existing substances," the association says. Chemicals management based on the risk assessment approach "must also be considered as a key element in other EU environmental legislation and in the various marine conventions relevant to the EU," it goes on.

Follow Up:
Cefic, tel: +32 2 676 7211.

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