ECHA launches a six-month public consultation on the proposed restriction of chromium VI in leather articles

The Danish authorities submitted a report proposing a restriction on the placing on the market of leather articles containing chromium VI in concentrations above a certain limit that come into direct and prolonged or repetitive contact with the skin. Chromium VI is known to cause severe allergic contact dermatitis in humans and is able to elicit dermatitis at very low concentrations. In particular, the risk assessment demonstrates that chromium VI present in shoes and other leather articles may cause contact allergies. Chromium VI is not intentionally used in the preparation of leather from skins and hides and in the manufacturing of articles of leather, but may be formed during the processing by oxidation of chromium III used for the tanning of the leather. According to industry, measures for preventing the formation of chromium VI in leather are implemented in tanneries all across the European Union. Furthermore, many importers of leather articles require that they do not contain chromium VI in measurable concentrations. Nevertheless, surveys have demonstrated that more than 30% of the tested leather articles contain chromium VI in concentrations above 3 mg/kg, which is the concentration limit proposed by the Danish authorities. Interested parties can comment on the restriction proposal and the associated report using the webform on ECHA’s website. Comments will be reviewed and taken into account by the ECHA Committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC). The final opinions of the two committees on the proposed restriction will be finalised by March 2013. Based on these opinions, the European Commission will take a decision on whether to introduce these restrictions into the REACH Regulation. The Annex XV report contains the background and justifications for the proposed restriction. It includes the identified risks, information on alternatives, the effectiveness of the restriction in reducing the risks and the costs of the restriction. Although the six month public consultation concludes on 16 September 2012, the rapporteurs of RAC and SEAC would welcome any comments by 1 June 2012 to assist them in the first discussion of the restriction proposal in committee meetings of June 2012.

European Chemicals Agency, 16 March 2012 ; ;