Campaigners warn against ‘unlawful’ approval of chromium trioxide

Member states have been urged to reject a proposal to authorise the carcinogenic substance chromium trioxide at a REACH committee meeting this week, with NGOs claiming the approval request was incomplete.

In a letter to members of the REACH committee, which is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the draft implementing decision, a coalition of environmental groups has said that the initial request for authorisation failed to show that there were no alternatives to chromium trioxide.

Listed as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) since 2010, chromium trioxide is used in industries ranging from aerospace to cosmetics, plastics and food contact materials. The European Chemicals Agency has estimated that it causes around 50 fatal incidents of cancer every year among workers who come into contact with it. 

“Granting authorisation to this application would be unlawful as it has not been demonstrated that alternatives are not available for all the generic uses applied for,” states the letter, which was written by Tatiana Santos of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) on behalf of ClientEarth, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), ChemSec and Health Care Without Harm.

Santos also called on the European Commission to propose a much tighter set of criteria for authorising the substance, including “in a defined manner, the uses for which the applicant has shown that no suitable alternatives are available”. 

The European Parliament narrowly adopted a resolution in November objecting to the proposed authorisation of chromium trioxide on the basis that it was too wide-ranging to comply with requirements under the REACH regime and that safer alternatives already exist for some of the stated uses. 

The commission has been approached for comment.

Follow-up: NGO letter

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