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Discussions around exception to use toxic chemical fails to consider safe alternatives

The authorisation application to use chromium trioxide by company Grohe is on the agenda during this week’s REACH Committee meeting, where the Commission and Member States adopt the most important decisions on chemicals. In discussions about chromium trioxide, a chemical listed on the candidate list due to its carcinogenic and mutagenic effects, many alternatives producers have come forward claiming that alternatives will be available within a few years. Still the ECHA committees proposes authorisation for 12 years.

“Again the ECHA Committees propose to disfavor alternative providers and instead favor companies that want to continue to use SVHCs. The fact that these alternatives producers will not gain the expected market shares and will be disfavored if authorisation is granted is not taken into account. REACH is clear that SVHCs should be phased out and just be used if no alternatives are available and the socioeconomic benefits outweigh the risk. This is not the case here!” says ChemSec Policy Advisor Frida Hök.

The issue of granting authorisation even though there are alternatives is seen in other, previous cases, as well, for example the authorisation to use lead chromates in paints, which lead to ChemSec filing an internal review request due to disfavouring alternative providers. Last week Sweden announced it is also planning to take the Commission to court over the very same case.

“This is a clear sign that the Commission is not on the right track in terms of authorisation. We hope the REACH Committee stands up for alternative providers by not granting authorisation for 12 years when there are alternatives available.”


New inclusions to annex XIV?

In addition to the issue of chromium trioxide, the meeting agenda also indicates that the Commission will start to add new substances to annex XIV. There have not been any new inclusions to the list in over two years now. ChemSec’s Frida Hök hopes the committee seizes this opportunity and includes all waiting substances from ECHAs recommendations to annex XIV.

“ChemSec also expects the Commission to continuously add substances to annex XIV in the future, instead of bottlenecking the process as they have been doing until this point”, she says.