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Clean tap water for all EU citizens – ECHA’s work on new directive begins


The revised Drinking Water Directive comes into effect today. It aims to protect people, improve access to water and ensure uniform safety standards for industry. ECHA’s task is to set up lists of chemicals that can be safely used in materials that come into contact with drinking water.

Helsinki, 12 January 2021 – ECHA will support the European Commission to develop EU-wide positive lists of chemicals, compositions or constituents that can be safely used to produce materials that come into contact with drinking water between the water source and the tap.

The first lists will be based on existing national lists and are expected to cover around 1 500 chemicals for different types of materials. The European Commission will adopt them by 2025. After the adoption, all entries in the lists will be reviewed within 15 years. The Agency will prioritise substances for review based on their hazardous properties and the relevance of their risk assessments. It will also recommend expiry dates for them.

Jack de Bruijn, ECHA’s Director of Prioritisation and Integration says: “ECHA’s future work will align the national approval systems. This improves the quality of drinking water throughout the EU. Additionally, it provides a level playing field on the EU market for companies that manufacture materials for the drinking water networks and systems.

The Agency will also support the Commission to develop information requirements for applicants and assessment methods. This work will be done in close collaboration with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) due to the links with legislation on food contact materials.

More information about ECHA's work on drinking water and roles for different actors under the directive is now available online.


The Drinking Water Directive aims to ensure a high level of protection of the environment and human health from the negative effects of contaminated drinking water. It updates water quality standards and introduces a risk-based approach to monitoring water. It also improves the information on water quality and water services provided to consumers as well as access to clean water. The EU Member States have two years to include the directive in their national legislation.