ECHA identifies bleaching agent and others as chems of high concern

16 June 2014 14:54 Source:ICIS News

(recast, clarifying quotes in paragraphs 7-10 are attributed to Sylvie Lemoine, AISE director, technical and regulatory affairs)

LONDON (ICIS)--The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has added four more chemicals to the EU’s Candidate List of toxic chemicals, it said on Monday, including the bleaching agent sodium perborate.

The ECHA said it had added cadmium chloride; branched and linear forms of 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, dihexyl ester; sodium peroxometaborate; and sodium perborate (the sodium salt of perboric acid) to the Candidate List which now includes 155 substances.

The use of Candidate List substances comes under increasing scrutiny within the EU’s Reach (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) legislation. Some of these substances may eventually be phased out of sale and use in the EU or alternatives sought. Their continued use, including use in products and articles, could eventually be subject to authorisation within the EU.

Cadmium chloride, which has had uses electroplating, dyeing and printing is carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic for reproduction and has other serious human health effects, the ECHA said.

Sodium perborate was identified by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety in 2010 as being toxic to reproduction possibly affecting fertility and the unborn child.

Sodium perborate was widely used in detergents and household cleaners including dishwasher tablets and in relatively high concentrations. It is used in hair dyes and teeth whitening products. And its move the Candidate List, which is a list of substance of very high concern (SVHC), has been challenged by the detergents industry.

“AISE seriously questions the need to add sodium perborate/peroxometaborate on the list of SVHC when a Risk Management Option analysis has de facto already been conducted,” said the soaps and detergents trade group’s director for technical and regulatory affairs, Sylvie Lemoine.

Sodium perborate/peroxometaborate’s use in detergents and other products has been restricted under Reach since 30 June 2013 with specific concentration limits (SCLs) applying to products sold to the general public.

“This Restriction was adopted even though the former EU Risk Assessment process had already concluded in 2007 that there was no risk from the uses of sodium perborate in laundry detergents and household cleaners,” Lemoine added.

“AISE has not been involved further in the process that led to inclusion of these substances into the Candidate List."

AISE is the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products.

Detergent makers have moved to restrict sodium perborate use, however, and switch to alternatives.

“Sodium perborate has been safely used as a bleaching agent in laundry detergent for many years, but there are concerns about the possible health risks of exposure to high levels. As a result, we have voluntarily replaced it worldwide with a lower-risk alternative, percarbonate,” a Unilever spokesperson said.

The household products and food company made the change in 2006.

By Nigel Davis