EU round up – ECHA appeal board says paint chemical must be tested on animals

14 August 2013

The European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) appeal board has rejected a claim from USA chemical giant Dow that it should not be forced to test a key paint and coatings solvent on animals.

In a test case regarding the registration under the REACH chemical control system of glycol methyl ether acetate (DPMA), the board decided that the agency was right in rejecting Dow’s wish to use a ‘read-across’ method of assessing the chemical’s safety regarding it causing human reproductive problems.

That research system would involve drawing information and analysis on tests into similar chemicals. ECHA decided this was not safe enough and demanded Dow tested the chemical on rats. Dow appealed and was backed by animal rights groups such as the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments. But the appeal board has backed the agency, saying it acted legally. ECHA rightly used its "margin of discretion” available under REACH when "rejecting the read-across approach proposed by the appellant,” said the board. Dow will now have to conduct the tests

Meanwhile, ECHA has started the process of adding three key paints and coatings chemicals to its list of substances that require special authorisation to be used in the European Union (EU).

They are dimethylformamide; 4-(1,1,3,3- tetramethylbutyl)phenol, ethoxylated (4-tert-Octylphenol ethoxylates) or 4-tert-OPnEO; and Bis(pentabromophenyl)ether (decabromodiphenyl ether – or decaBDE.

Dimethylformamide is a solvent with a low evaporation rate used in surface coatings; 4-tert-OPnEO is used in paints, industrial end-use of paints, consumer and professional end-use of paints; and decaBDE is used in adhesives, coatings and inks and has end uses in electrical and electronic equipment and the construction sector.

ECHA is looking for comments by September 23 on whether these should be added to the REACH authorisation list – it should, later this year, make recommendations to the European Commission, which will make the final decision.

ECHA has added paint ingredients cadmium, cadmium oxide and 4-Nonylphenol, branched and linear, ethoxylated to a candidate list of substances it may later consider insisting be subject to special authorisation. The agency is concerned about the cancer-causing properties of cadmium and fears 4-Nonylphenol could damage human reproductive health.

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