Japan upholds limit on PCBs in organic pigments

A joint ministry report has upheld a limit of 50ppm on manufacturing or importing organic pigments that contain by-products of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This is the limit established by the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The report was published by an investigative commission on behalf of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) and the Ministry of Environment (MoE). Under the Chemical Substances Control Law (CSCL), PCBs are classified as class I specified chemical substances. Manufacturing, importing or using these substances is prohibited. PCBs are known to be highly toxic to human health and the environment. Used in electrical equipment, inks, coatings and paints, they are generated unintentionally as a secondary product during the manufacturing process. Other recommendations by the investigative commission are:

  • to manage organic pigments with PCB by-products lower than 50ppm, using the best available technology (BAT) and encourage companies to make efforts to further decrease the level;
  • to set up and report a ‘self-management upper limit’. This is a reference value set by each company to determine whether or not they can release a product with PCBs onto the market. It should be set at the lowest level that is technologically and economically achievable; and
  • to require companies to report management and analysis methods to the government on a frequency determined by the self-management upper limit. The higher the limit, the more frequently the company should report.

The commission will review the measures on PCB by-products. It will also review the handling of other class I specified chemical substance by-products. The 50ppm limit was imposed in 2002 as an interim measure, after the Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers found that certain pigments contain PCBs. Japanese companies that were handling organic pigments continued the research and confirmed these findings. In February 2012, Meti launched an initiative to identify pigments that contain more than 50ppm of PCBs, in response to a report from the Japan Dyestuff and Industrial Chemicals Association (JDICA), which found traces in 57 out of 98 organic pigments tested. Meti proceeded toprevent the saleof organic pigments, containing PCBs over the prescribed limit. The following year, Meti launched atenderfor screening and risk assessment of the substances. It sought in vitrodata relating to the metabolism of PCBs, specifically those containing 1-2 chlorine atoms and coplanar PCB isomers.

Chemical Watch, 24 February 2016 ;http://chemicalwatch.com ;