Immediate risk management suggested for 300 harmful chemicals
Assessing chemicals in groups has sped up authorities’ work, with assessments for 1 900 substances finalised in 2021. For around 300 of these, risk management actions could begin immediately.
Helsinki, 17 June 2022 – ECHA’s fourth report under its Integrated Regulatory Strategy has been released, showing that considerable progress has been made on accelerating the pace at which regulatory actions are identified for substances of concern.
In 2021, assessments were finalised for more than 1 900 substances, mostly grouped based on their structural similarity. This was 30 % more than in 2020. Around 300 of these substances require risk management measures, while 800 do not currently require further action. The remaining 800 need more data to be generated, and around 350 of these are expected to move to risk management in the future.
Since group assessments became the focus, from 2019 to the end of 2021, a total of about 3 800 substances have been assessed – including 134 phthalate and phthalate-like substances and 148 bisphenols. The first batch of 19 group assessments was published at the end of 2021 and covered more than 450 substances.
Around 25 % of the assessed substances require further risk management. Some need to be restricted and have been included to the European Commission’s Restrictions Roadmap. The assessments will continue to feed into the roadmap and directly contribute to the aims of the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Green Deal.
This leaves 75 % where no further regulatory action is currently needed, because they are low hazard, the potential for exposure is limited or there are already risk management measures in place.
But hazards need to be confirmed before risk management actions can start, and more data is often first needed. Companies need to proactively update their registrations with up-to-date information to avoid regulatory actions being planned based on outdated data.
ECHA’s report also highlights a steep increase in substances needing harmonised classification and labelling (CLH), with the number tripling in 2021 compared to 2020. With CLH often a prerequisite for moving ahead with further regulatory measures, authorities must dedicate sufficient resources and start preparing proposals for these substances to avoid creating a regulatory backlog.
The regulatory needs of almost 1 300 high-volume substances (above 100 tonnes per year) remain to be assessed.
Member States need to dedicate resources to work on substances that need further regulatory action without delay – particularly for harmonised classification and labelling.
Member States and ECHA should intensify collaboration so they can discuss and agree on which substances to prioritise. They should also use the Commission’s Restrictions Roadmap to identify candidates for restriction.
Companies should proactively review and update data in their registration dossiers, as the information they provide is the basis for the assessment of regulatory needs.
ECHA’s Integrated Regulatory Strategy aims to speed up data generation, identification of groups of substances of concern, and regulatory action. It does so by integrating different regulatory processes into one coherent approach to manage chemical risks effectively and efficiently. The strategy also encourages collaboration between ECHA, Member States and the European Commission.
The goal of the strategy is to clarify which registered substances are a high priority for regulatory risk management or data generation, and which are currently a low priority for further regulatory action.