One of the central features of the REACH chemicals legislation that should improve public health is the process which lists the most dangerous chemicals (known as substances of very high concern or SVHCs) on the European market. This “Candidate List” serves a number of important functions, all of which can directly or indirectly serve to improve environmental health by reducing the use of and people’s exposure to chemicals that are carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins, or which persistent and bioaccumulative.
One major function of the Candidate List is to promote the consumers’ ability to make informed choices about products which may contain dangerous chemicals. Once a chemical is listed on the Candidate List, consumers have a legal right to obtain information from the sellers about whether these chemicals are present (above a certain concentration) in a particular product. The sellers must reply within 45 working days (this applies to European consumers).
Another major function of the Candidate List is to assist product manufacturers by identifying hazardous chemicals which they can then undertake to replace with safer chemicals in order to improve the environmental health impact of their products. It also gives the various businesses in the supply chain up to and including the final retailer a ‘right to know’ about the chemicals in the materials they are handling.
Unfortunately, to date, only 16 SVHCs have been nominated in the official process. The 16 chemicals from the 30,000 that fall within the scope of REACH have been officially proposed by 7 EU Member States to the European Chemicals Agency for the ‘candidate list’.
To help assist in speeding the implementation of REACH and to present chemicals in need of substitution, the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) is launching the SIN list 1.0 (SIN=Substitute It Now) of high concern chemicals. It is a list of chemicals which fulfill the REACH criteria for Substances of Very High Concern. The SIN List 1.0 draws on the work from several previous European Union chemicals management and research processes and names those SVHCs already identified under the former legal regime.
ChemSec will continue to update this list with additional substances as new data will become available through the provisions of REACH.
The International Chemicals Secretariat (ChemSec), a Swedish NGO, is the project leader and responsible for the methodology and results. The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) was part of the project advisory committee, together with eight other public interest organizations in Europe and the USA. Both the methodological approach and the content of individual chemicals named on the SIN List 1.0 were also subject to reviews by external scientists.
A new ChemSec publication, called Substitution 1.0 was also launched at this event. This report provides an introduction into the process of chemicals managements and substitution of hazardous substances, as well as hands-on examples from some of the companies we work with.
What benefits and guidance can the SIN List 1.0 bring for medical and health communities
Written on 15 September 2008.