EU round up – New EU nanotech committee established by ECHA

17 August 2012

A special European Union (EU) consultative system is being established to ensure industry, science and regulators come together in the development of rules aimed at ensuring the safe use of nanotechnology in consumer products such as paints.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) met with regulators from the EU’s 27 member states and all backed establishing an autonomous nano-materials working group, advising ECHA committees on how EU chemical controls system REACH applies to nanosubstances. It would "provide advice on scientific and technical principles,” said an ECHA note.

Meanwhile, the agency is to publish this summer best practice on analysing nanomaterials, using studies made by companies, which have already registered nanotech-based chemicals through the REACH system. ECHA said its priority is to "provide clarity on the physico-chemical characteristics of nanomaterials”.

Limiting phthalates use

Elsewhere, ECHA is consulting the public and the plastics industry over its opposition to proposals from Denmark to limit the use of four phthalates – DEHP, DBP, BBP and DIBP – all found in paints and varnishes. The deadline for comments is September 3. This follows conclusions by ECHA’s socio-economic analysis and risk assessment committees that existing EU controls, which include manufacturers requiring special authorisation to use these phthalates, were sufficient to reduce the exposure of consumers. An agency note said there had been "a steady decline in the use of these phthalates over the last decade. This trend is expected to continue…”

Also, the EU Council of Ministers has scrapped an EU anti-dumping duty of E352/tonne on China exports of coatings ingredient furfuraldehyde (also called furfural). This followed a Commission inquiry concluding that prices of the chemical exports had risen sufficiently not to pose an unfair risk to EU producers.

On safety issues, the EU Council of Ministers has approved a new Seveso III directive tightening controls on potentially explosive chemicals used by the plastics manufacturing industry.

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