REACH: ETUC updates its Priority List for Authorisation

Brussels, 13/07/2010

The Trade Union List version 2.0 includes 334 substances or group of substances ordered by priority, this represents 29 new entries compared to the first version published in March 2009. Most of these substances are identified as causative agents for recognised occupational diseases in the EU countries.

The ETUC is convinced that including the union-listed chemicals in the Authorisation List would cut the incidence of chemical-related occupational diseases and the attendant costs for the community, workers and industry itself. It will also be a strong incentive for companies to innovate and replace them by safer alternatives.

Two years after REACH entry into operation, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has only identified 38 substances as candidates for authorisation and none of them has yet been included in the Authorisation List.

At that pace, it will take several generations to tackle all substances of very high concern currently present in our workplaces and our environment. Therefore, ETUC is calling on the Member States, the European Commission and ECHA to boost the authorisation procedure to avoid putting its credibility on the line and undermine REACH's substitution aim.

Download the Trade Union Priority List for REACH Authorisation

Background information:
Substances of very high concern include:
- carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxins (CMR), classified in category 1A or 1B according to the CLP criteria;
- persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT), and very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) substances, i.e. those that break up slowly or not at all, and that accumulate in the environment and are toxic.
- substances identified, on a case-by-case basis, from scientific evidence as causing probable serious effects to humans or the environment of an equivalent level of concern as those above (e.g. endocrine disrupters).
The updated version of the Trade Union List includes 568 individual substances covered by 334 entries. It has 131 substances in common with the Member States List developed by an informal group of six EU countries and 130 substances in common with the SIN List 1.1 published by a group of leading NGOs. Taking into account the three priority lists established to influence the REACH authorisation process, they total 978 different substances that all have the common denominator of being on the EU market and meeting the criteria to be considered as substances of very high concern.

Out of the 38 substances currently included in the candidate ist, 31 were also listed in the Trade Union Priority List, showing that the union list is a valuable identification tool for substances of very high concern.

The Trade Union List version 2.0 indicates which are the substances in common with the REACH Candidate List and wiith the Member States List. It also mentions for each substance or group of substances which are their main uses.

The new EU regulation to control the trade and use of chemical substances REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals) came into effect in June 2007. It requires manufacturers and importers of chemicals to register them with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as proof that they can be used safely. For chemicals of very high concern, industrialists must also get authorisation for each use in order to continue marketing them. An estimated 30,000 or so chemicals will have to be REACH-registered. The number of substances of very high concern on the European market could be anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000.