Maxico proposes overarching chemicals law with burden of proof on industry

2020-04-02

Policy sets out to combat ‘unacceptable legacy’ on chemicals management

Mexico’s health authority has proposed an overarching national chemicals policy that would place the burden of proof on companies to show substances they import or use in the country are safe, and would allow the government to restrict or ban those that pose an “unacceptable risk”.

The policy proposes a general law for the Comprehensive Management of Chemical Substances, which would establish an inventory of all chemicals used in the country and require producers or importers to “provide sufficient information based on the risk assessment evidence to ensure adequate risk management … along the supply chain”.

Producers or importers would have two years to provide a registration dossier containing:

general data, physical properties, toxicological and ecotoxicological properties, as well as all uses of the substance;

a ‘chemical safety assessment’ that characterises risks for and potential exposure to the environment and human health, conditions of safe use, and communication of these conditions to all potential users; and

classification, labelling and safety data sheets in accordance with the UN’s Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals. Mexico adopted the fifth revised edition in 2018.

The law would also create “the necessary mechanisms” to restrict or mandate the substitution of chemicals that “represent an unacceptable risk to health for the population or the environment”.

The General Health Council (CSG), which published the policy late last year, expects to present the law before Congress this year and have it passed in 2021. It plans to have the inventory up and running by 2022, according to the timeline set out in the policy.

The proposed law would also implement an environmental-health tracking system for chemical substances, incorporating data on chemicals in the environment and human biomonitoring, and draft a national strategy for research on chemical substances.

The research strategy would aim to “overcome the gap between basic research and practice” and “translate basic biomedical and environmental health research into concrete strategies to protect and improve the health of the population.”

Justification

The CSG said that currently, laws governing chemicals in Mexico are spread across 11 public agencies and the framework “has turned out to be ineffective [and] fragmented”.

Government inaction “coupled with conflict of interest” in some chemicals management areas has “generated an unacceptable legacy”, it said.

During attempts to develop partial inventories of chemicals, “it became clear that the industry provides irregularly or does not provide” basic information like substances’ CAS numbers, the authority said.

“Despite the fact that 90% of chemicals are imported, and that many of them are regulated in other countries for which basic information on their properties and sufficient information to evaluate their risks has had to be generated, this information is not provided to the authorities in our country,” it added.

Industry response

Mexico’s chemical industry association (ANIQ) said it is working with the authority “to establish the most relevant and effective regulation that is consistent with our industry’s objectives and the CSG’s concern.”

It stressed that “to date, there are no additional or different obligations to those we already have in our current legislation, so there should be no restrictions” on goods currently being marketed in the country.

Chemical Watch, 2 April 2020
; https://chemicalwatch.com/104488/mexico-proposes-overarching-chemicals-law-with-burden-of-proof-on-industry – overlay-strip