Are chemicals in articles an obstacle for reaching environmental goals? - Missing links in EU chemical management.Sci Total Environ. 2012 Oct 01; 435-436:280-9.ST
It is widely acknowledged that the management of risks associated with chemicals in articles needs to be improved. The EU environmental policy states that environmental damage should be rectified at source. It is therefore motivated that the risk management of substances in articles also takes particular consideration to those substances identified as posing a risk in different environmental compartments. The primary aim of the present study was to empirically analyze to what extent the regulation of chemicals in articles under REACH is coherent with the rules concerning chemicals in the Sewage Sludge Directive (SSD) and the Water Framework Directive (WFD). We also analyzed the chemical variation of the organic substances regulated under these legislations in relation to the most heavily used chemicals. The results show that 16 of 24 substances used in or potentially present in articles and regulated by the SSD or the WFD are also identified under REACH either as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) or subject to some restrictions. However, for these substances we conclude that there is limited coherence between the legislations, since the identification as an SVHC does not in itself encompass any use restrictions, and the restrictions in REACH are in many cases limited to a particular use, and thus all other uses are allowed. Only a minor part of chemicals in commerce is regulated and these show a chemical variation that deviates from classical legacy pollutants. This warrants new tools to identify potentially hazardous chemicals in articles. We also noted that chemicals monitored in the environment under the WFD deviate in their chemistry from the ones regulated by REACH. In summary, we argue that to obtain improved resource efficiency and a sustainable development it is necessary to minimize the input of chemicals identified as hazardous to health or the environment into articles.