EU “toxic-free” vision shapes safer chemicals strategy
The European Union is proposing a new vision for a “toxic-free environment” and has published a strategy for moving the EU towards that goal, according to Green Buzz. It’s likely these new policies will drive significant changes in the U.S.
EU chemical restrictions have gained limited traction in U.S. federal statutes and regulations, but many state laws increasingly rely on the chemical hazard criteria and analyses from REACH (the principal European chemical regulation) and other EU laws and regulations.
Many U.S. companies base their restrictions on hazardous chemicals on EU lists or restrictions such as the Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) under REACH — even where unregulated in the U.S.
The EU plans to promote safer substitutes or eliminate the need for chemical additives in some products altogether, so they do not end up being circulated indefinitely in commerce.
The EU intends to move away from an approach to chemical regulation that depends primarily on tracking down substances that are hazardous only after they’re already being used in products, even when similar to previously restricted substances. Rather, it will focus on prohibiting their use in the first place.
The new EU chemical strategy includes these key measures:
Ensure consumer products such as toys, cosmetics, cleaning products, children’s care products and food contact materials do not contain chemicals that may cause cancer, gene mutations, neurological or respiratory damage or that may interfere with endocrine or reproductive systems.
Under most regulations, both in the EU and U.S., chemicals are usually assessed and regulated one-by-one. The European Commission plans to address PFAS and other chemicals of concern with a group approach.
A legally binding hazard definition of endocrine disruptors is expected. Two new categories of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) will be introduced: persistent; mobile and toxic (PMT); and very persistent and very mobile (vPvM) substances.
Information on the impacts of chemical mixtures will be introduced more formally into chemical risk assessment requirements.
Companies that take the lead in adapting their planning to the EU strategy will be ahead of EU requirements, mitigate future supply chain and product risks and operate in the best interest of consumers and the environment.
EPA and OSHA improve system for review of new chemicals under TSCA
The EPA and OSHA have announced an agreement that advances collaboration and communication on the EPA’s review of new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act, according to Environment & Energy Leader.
This memorandum of understanding provides a framework for coordination and communication between the two agencies regarding exposure to new chemicals in the workplace.
Highlights of the memorandum of agreement include:
- Establishing designated staff and management points of contact from each agency to discuss and resolve workplace exposure issues related to the EPA’s review of new chemicals;
- Providing OSHA with regular updates on the EPA’s new chemical determinations, including any necessary worker protection identified during the EPA’s review;
- Documenting the EPA’s role in identifying and notifying OSHA of the need for formal consultation on EPA’s review of new chemicals.
ECHA assesses benefits of EU authorization list
Placing harmful chemicals on the EU ‘authorization list’, where use is permitted on a case-by-case basis only where no alternative is available, has led companies to stop using them completely in almost half of cases, with volumes of the remainder down 97%, according to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).