Health, environment, and justice organizations seek clarification from ECHA on nano and biocidal-treated products


On January 20, 2021, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe and 12 other health, environment, and justice organizations sent a letter to Bjorn Hansen, Executive Director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) “seeking clarifications on both the applicable legal framework and risk management measures in place, for nano/biocidal-treated articles in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.” The letter states that “[a]s a result of laboratory tests supposedly showing antiviral activity against a range of viruses, the use of biocides/nanoparticles to combat SARS-CoV-2 transmission (particularly silver) is rapidly growing.” According to the letter, the European Union (EU) market currently includes products such as face masks treated with silver, zinc oxide, or copper nanoparticles; “anticovid” paper containing nanostructured zinc-silver; and nanosilver-containing surface disinfectants. The letter states that according to market research, “the demand is growing for antimicrobial and antiviral nanocoatings as (new) products come to the market.” The organizations seek clarification on several issues, including the following ones regarding nanomaterials:

While articles treated with a biocide placed on the EU market do not need authorization, individual active biocidal substances must be approved (or reviewed) under the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) before being used in the EU.

What measures are/will be taken regarding nano-treated masks sold on the EU market for example?

Under the BPR, when a treated article placed on the market refers to the biocidal properties of the active substances contained therein, the label should include a statement that the treated article incorporates biocidal products, the names of the active substances, and if present, the names of each biocidal (nano-)substance followed by the word “nano” in brackets. The recently published report on the first harmonized enforcement project (BEF-1) held under the umbrella of the BPR Subgroup of the Enforcement Forum reveals that in 2019 the quality of information provided on these labels was inadequate in 36% of cases, and that basic information, such as the name of the biocidal active substance used for treatment of the product, was often missing.

As this report only covered treated articles in 2019, and considering the significant rise of biocide/nanomaterial treated articles in 2020, is ECHA considering an extra compliance check in the near future?

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Nano and Other Emerging Chemical Technologies Blog, 26 January 2021