Fourth priority chemicals list

A fourth priority list of chemicals which will undergo risk assessment under an EC programme has been published by the European Commission. 1

Launched in 1993, the programme is evaluating the risks posed by "existing" substances which were in commerce before pre-market testing and notification rules for "new" substances came into force within the EC in September 1981. There are some 100,000

existing substances.

The new list brings the total number of substances featured in the priority lists since 1994 to 140. The programme has been proceeding slowly, and so far summary risk assessments have been published for just four substances - linear alkyl benzenes, two glycol ethers and, most recently, short-chain chlorinated paraffins (ENDS Report 306, p 41 ).

However, there are signs that the programme may deliver more results soon. Conclusions have now been agreed by Member States on 40 substances, with risk reduction measures in the pipeline for 32 and further information required on another five.

The new list of 30 substances is shown in the table

, along with the rapporteur Member State which will draft the risk assessment report.

Three substances for which the UK is joint rapporteur with Ireland are phosphates which are increasingly being used as substitutes for brominated flame retardants, at least one of which may be restricted following risk assessments now nearing completion (ENDS Report 308, p 41 ). The UK has always argued that potential substitutes for hazardous chemicals must be scrutinised for safety, and it will now be able to do just that.

The inclusion of boric acid will be of interest to detergent manufacturers. The compound is a breakdown product of perborates which are used as bleach in laundry detergents, and there has been concern about the hazards it poses to consumers via drinking water.

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