The EU Commission grants authorisations for cancer-causing chemical
Two legislative never-ending stories regarding authorisation to use of the cancer-causing chemical chromium trioxide are finally coming to an end. Two applications – one from the company Gerhardi and one from a whole slew of companies spearheaded by chemical manufacturer Lanxess – got the REACH Committee’s green light last week to continue using chromium trioxide in a wide range of products.
While ChemSec is obviously disappointed by the overall conclusion, which will be formally adopted by the EU Commission in the near future, the decisions can also be seen as a slight step in the right direction.
In the Gerhardi case, the REACH Committee voted in favour of reducing the proposed authorisation period from 12 to 7 years for using chromium trioxide in chrome plating of plastic parts in the automotive industry.
In this case, alternative providers have been very vocal in the authorisation process, arguing that safer alternatives will be available for these purposes within a shorter period of time than Gerhardi stated in the application.
It appears that the EU Commission, as well as the REACH Committee, finally listened to the alternative providers and took their opinions into account. The fact that the authorisation period was reduced with five years is proof of this.
“We are very concerned that alternative providers need to put in this much effort to get heard”
“Even if we are happy to see that they’re not just rubberstamping the opinion from ECHA, we are very concerned that alternative providers need to put in this much effort to get heard”, says Frida Hök, Senior Policy Advisor at ChemSec, and continues:
“The burden of proof should be on the applicant to prove that alternatives are not available, not on the alternative providers to do everything they can to show that alternatives actually do exist”.
“We’re disappointed to see an approval for this authorisation, the application has too many flaws and unclarities”
As for the Lanxess case, the company coalition was granted authorisation under certain conditions. This decision was preceded by a very long process, with the sunset date having already passed, perhaps making it politically difficult to in the end say no to the application.
The EU Commission however states very clearly that it has imposed strict conditions for the companies.
“We’re disappointed to see an approval for this authorisation, the application has too many flaws and unclarities to be approved in our view. The fact that it comes with strict conditions does not make up for this”, Frida Hök says.
Last year, ChemSec released a report together with ClientEarth where a number of improvements for ECHA, SEAC and the EU Commission are listed to make sure that alternative providers are taken into account and that authorisations are not granted when alternatives are available. Read it here.