Helsinki -- The European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, is publishing information on articles available on the EU market that contain SVHCs (substances of very high concern). These SVHCs are ones that are currently on what is called the "Candidate list," meaning they may eventually be included in a group of materials that need EU authorisation to use.
The data is based on information provided by companies to ECHA in the REACH notification and registration dossiers.
The majority of substances which this process revealed are the four phthalates that are on the Candidate List, due to their toxicity for reproduction. These can typically be found in plastic articles. Examples of such notified articles are cables, bags, packaging material, waterproof garments and PVC flooring.
The second most common notification is for the brominated flame retardant HBCCD (hexabromocyclododecane), which is persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. HBCCD can be found in products used by the construction and building sectors such as plastic panels for the thermal insulation of buildings. It has also been notified in polystyrene foam used for packaging and in the plastic housing of electronic appliances.
ECHA says that this does not mean that all articles of these types contain the substance, just that they may. Similarly, not finding an article in the list does not mean that it does not contain an SVHC.
ECHA is providing this information to increase knowledge on the use and presence of hazardous substances in consumer articles, and to remind importers and producers of their legal obligations to notify the agency when their articles contain substances on the Candidate List.
Consumers are also reminded that they have the right to know when substances on the Candidate List are present in articles that they want to buy. They have the right to ask the retailer this and to receive an answer within 45 days.
ECHA notes that it only had 203 notifications from April to December 2011. This is a new obligation for producers and importers of articles and many may yet be unaware of their responsibility to notify. As a result, the information may not provide a full picture of SVHCs in articles on the EU market.
ECHA wants companies to check that they have implemented their legal obligations in this regard.
June 2012 is the deadline for producers and importers of articles to notify ECHA of the presence in articles of any of the 20 SVHCs that were included in the Candidate List in December 2011, ECHA said.