EU states agree nanomaterial changes to REACH annexes

Nanomaterial-specific information requirements would become part of the legal text for REACH for the first time under proposed changes just agreed by EU member states. At a meeting of the REACH Committee, states voted in favour of amending several REACH annexes to clarify registration requirements with regard to the controversial materials. The aim of the changes, they say, is to address the current “knowledge gap” relating to:

  • the substances registered under REACH that are placed on the market as nanomaterials; and
  • the corresponding quantities, broken down in terms of the specific nanoforms.

They will provide information on:

  • basic characteristics;
  • uses; safe handling techniques; potential risks to human health and the environment; and
  • risk control methods.

REACH has always applied to nanomaterials but has not previously contained specific provisions for them. This, some have argued, has led to confusion about how to register them. VCI, the German trade association for the chemical industry, welcomed the vote, saying in a statement that the changes brought legal certainty and clarity for companies. The draft Commission Regulations, with the revised annexes, will now be submitted for a three-month scrutiny period by the European Parliament and Council, before adoption by the Commission. The Commission’s draft changes to the annexes, published last year, attracted strong criticism from NGOs during the public consultation. They accused the Commission of failing to “future proof” the annexes and of being unacceptably late by timing the proposal so that it would have no impact on the final REACH registration deadline. Subsequently, industry asked the Commission to delay changing the annexes until after completion of the process for revising the Commission’s Recommendation on the nanomaterial definition. Several REACH registrations for substances marketed as nanomaterials have led to legal disputes between industry and regulatory authorities over the provision of information. Of these, the registration of titanium dioxide has arguably garnered most attention, owing to the huge volumes for manufacture and use, as well as the myriad of applications. The REACH registrants for the substance elected to submit just one registration, covering all forms, for the 2010 deadline. Via an evaluation Decision, ECHA asked for more substance identity information for the nanoforms covered by registration. But the registrants argued before the Board of Appeal that they need not provide such information, according to the REACH legal text, and the board annulled the contested Decision. Further information is available at: Commission statement

Chemical Watch, 26 April 2018 ; http://chemicalwatch.com

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