The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published its first report into compliance with substance restrictions under REACH Annex XVII.
Published on February 8, 2018, the ECHA report evaluated 5625 product checks, from 27 countries, received during joint market surveillance under the REACH-EN-FORCE project. The project aims to increase awareness of substance restrictions under REACH Annex XVII, with the intention of achieving better compliance and hence greater health and environmental protection.
The product checks covered 14 restricted entries, 17 substances, 1,009 mixtures and 4,599 articles. The 14 entries (Annex XVII entry no., substance, product focus) were:
- 5 - Benzene: glues for consumers and professionals
- 6 - Asbestos fibers: in articles
- 23 - Cadmium & compounds: plastic materials/packaging & other articles, brazing fillers and jewelry
- 27 - Nickel & compounds: jewelry & metal parts (e.g. buttons, zippers)
- 32 - Chloroform: glues for consumers and professionals
- 43 - Azocolorants & Azodyes: textile and leather articles
- 45 - Octabromo Diphenylether (Octa-BDE): substances, mixtures & articles
- 47 - Chromium VI compounds: leather articles & cement
- 48 - Toluene: adhesives & spray paints for the general public
- 49 - Trichlorobenzene: substances & mixtures
- 50 - Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH): articles for the general public
- 51, 52 - Phthalates: toys & childcare articles
- 63 - Lead & compounds: jewelry
Some countries also checked a further eight entries.
The report states compliance with REACH restrictions for the products checked was 82%, 18% non-compliance. The ECHA considers the rate of non-compliance to be high, due to the risk of damage to human health and the environment from the substances under surveillance.
The toy sector was found to have the highest rates of non-compliance, especially relating to phthalates:
- Entry 51 – 19.7%
- Entry 52 – 10.4%
The rates were slightly lower for childcare items – less than 10%. The figures for toys and childcare items were considered surprising as the restrictions have been in place for several years.
The second highest rate pertained to cadmium in brazing fillers, with a 14.1% non-compliance rate. It was also found that asbestos fibers were present in 13.6% of products checked, despite the restrictions being in place for many years. It should be noted, however, that non-compliant products were often from the second-hand market and may predate the restrictions. Under the terms of the law, however, second-hand products are not excluded from the restrictions and these products should not have been offered for sale.
Further non-compliance findings of concern were:
- Chromium (VI) in leather products – 13.3%
- Nickel in metal parts of textiles – 11.1%
- PAH in rubber or plastic parts of articles – 7.9%
- Heavy metals in jewelry – cadmium 12.1%, nickel 7.9%, lead 6.7%
The ECHA concludes that, due to the high rates of non-compliance being reported, initiatives must be undertaken to influence and enhance the responsibility of companies in the supply chain. It is obvious that simply non-compliance indicators relating to REACH substance restrictions, such as look and smell, are insufficient.
It suggests, information about the chemical composition of products must be provided by suppliers, and companies in the supply chain need to have agreements in force to provide information on chemical composition. The ECHA wishes to make it clear, it is not worth selling non-compliant products further along the supply chain.
Finally, the report emphasizes the need for enforcement authorities to continue enforcing the REACH restrictions by analyzing products on the market. The results of these enforcement actions are available in RAPEX.
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