ECHA finds health benefits outweigh costs of REACH restrictions


On February 16, 2021, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) published a study analyzing the economic and public health impacts of REACH chemical restrictions proposed between 2016 and 2020.

As of the time of publishing, ECHA has processed 36 restriction proposals, of which twelve restrictions involved an estimate of the benefits and costs. The report found the proposed restrictions under REACH achieve annual health benefits worth €2.1 billion, which is four times higher than the estimated associated costs of approximately €0.5 billion. The analysis finds the restrictions are protecting over seven million EU citizens from the risk of “serious illness such as cancers, sexual development disorders, asthma, and skin allergies” as well as preventing the annual release of 100 000 tons of polluting chemicals.

Among the restricted chemicals under REACH are the four phthalates bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP; CAS 117-81-7), dibutyl phthalate (DBP; CAS 84-74-2), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP; CAS 85-68-7), and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP; CAS 84-69-5), which have been categorized as toxicants for reproduction with endocrine-disrupting properties (FPF dossier). Exposure to these phthalates occurs, for example, through the ingestion of food that has been in contact with plastics that contain these additives. According to the ECHA study, the benefits of restricting DEHP, DBP, BBP, and DIBP are estimated to outweigh the associated costs of finding substitute and alternative technologies by more than 10 times (€235 million versus €17.6 million per year) in addition to other significant but non-quantifiable benefits.

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~sFood Packaging Forum, 17 February 2021