Brazil plans legislation on industrial chemicals

Legislation setting out a Brazilian national policy on industrial chemicals should be issued by the end of year, the country’s environment ministry (MMA) said recently. Alberto Rocha, manager of the chemicals division at the ministry gave further details to a side event at the UN chemicals summit, ICCM4. The proposed law, which will be presented to Brazil’s National Congress. It will list the obligations, mechanisms and institutional arrangements needed to meet the policy’s goals. These will include:

  • Establishing a national chemicals inventory using information in official databases, such as those used in the EU and Canada;
  • Using the UN Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labelling for classifying chemicals in its inventory (GBB December 2014);
  • Creating a process which will allow industry to provide substance data to the government;
  • Focusing on substance prioritisation based on risk; and
  • Developing risk management measures.

The National Chemicals Safety Commission (Conasq) – formed of 22 public sector institutions, private and non-governmental organisations – is developing the policy, which aims to manage the growing number of chemicals being placed on the market. Brazil is now the world’s sixth largest chemicals producer. The first phase of the government’s work involved reviews, conducted in 2013, of the regulatory policies in the EU, Canada and China. It sought to identify elements that would best suit Brazil. The ministry says it has studied the experiences of Serbia in creating national chemicals policy. The ICCM4 side event was held in partnership with experts from that country, as well as Sweden. Mr Rocha told the event that parts of the Canadian government model “look to be more suitable” than others, because of its focus on substance prioritisation and efficient use of government resources used to assess chemicals. In the same meeting, Gordon Lloyd, vice president of technical affairs at the Canadian Chemical Producers Association, said other regulatory frameworks have not put enough emphasis on prioritisation and conserving resources. “Countries that are looking at developing their own approach to chemicals management should look at how Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan focuses on prioritisation and choosing what needs to be assessed, and minimising the resources that are used,” he said. He added that the assessments, carried out by the government through information provided by the chemical industry, are not to fill data gaps. “They offer enough information to make a justifiable assessment decision and once the decision is made the government will stop further assessments.” “As an overall approach I think that makes a lot of sense and has made the programme very efficient,” he said. A timeline for implementing Brazil’s plans has not yet been agreed.

Chemical Watch, 15 October 2015 ; ;