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Moving towards a restriction on the use of microplastics

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The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) continues its commitment to the fight against microplastics by submitting a proposal for a restriction on intentionally added microplastic particles in mixtures used by consumers or professionals.
Microplastics are generally less than 5 mm and can be produced by the wear and tear of plastics but are also added voluntarily to certain products for specific uses (exfoliating beads in scrubs, detergents, paints, horticulture…). Their scope of application is very wide.

The restriction established by ECHA concerns the placing on the market of any polymer containing microplastic particles with a mass by mass ratio of more than 0.1%.

Microplastics are notably found in the following products:

  • Cosmetics
  • Detergents and maintenance products
  • Paints and surface treatments
  • Building materials
  • Therapeutic products
  • Common products used in the agricultural and petroleum sectors

The potential socio-economic impact of this measure on industry has been studied. It was concluded that the implementation of the restriction would be economically sustainable, even for the agricultural sector, which is now identified as the one that intentionally adds the most microplastics.

But why a restriction on microplastics?
These microparticles, when released into the environment, are absorbed by animals (fish, shellfish, etc.) and can then be ingested by humans.
The study of the effects of marine microplastics on human health is complicated because it is a material found everywhere in our environment (air, tap or bottled water, clothing…), but experiments show that microplastics harm aquatic species and have a direct impact on the environment.

For more information on this subject, do not hesitate to contact us.

Moving towards more controls on the presence of concerning substances in products

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On Wednesday, January 23rd, the French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) published its risk assessment report on chemical substances present in disposable diapers for babies in France.

The risk assessment carried out by ANSES revealed high concentrations of dangerous substances, which may present risks to babies’ health.

These substances include in particular:

  • Perfuming substances (propional butylphenyl methyl or hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde)
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • PolyChloroBiphenyls

Following this discovery, ANSES called for a strengthening of restrictive measures at the national and European level within the framework of the REACh regulation. The General Department of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) will strengthen controls in 2019 and manufacturers have been given notice to submit their action plans and initial results within an extremely short period of 15 days.

This example illustrates the need for the industry as a whole to better control potentially harmful chemicals present in articles or used in production processes and to control permissible concentrations and exposure limit values.

Feel free to contact us to discover our services and solutions to help you prepare and pass such controls.

Signing of an agreement between the European Commission and ECHA on a OELV watch!

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ECHA and the European Commission have signed an agreement mandating the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to regularly develop proposals for occupational exposure limit values (OELVs) from 2020 onwards to better protect workers exposed to hazardous chemicals. The first priority under this agreement will be to develop a recommendation on lead as requested by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment.

These proposals for new OELVs will be developed by the CER (Risk Evaluation Committee) expert groups, the same experts who are also working on chemical risk assessments for REACh regulation, with the aim of strengthening the synergy between product/market regulations and occupational health and safety.

This agreement also follows a pilot project conducted between 2017 and 2018, which led to 5 new OELV recommendations submitted to the European Commission for decision. As a reminder, the 5 substances covered by these recommendations for new European occupational exposure limit values were:

  • 4.4′-methylene-bis-[2-chloroaniline] (“MOCA”)
  • arsenic acid and its salts and inorganic compounds
  • benzene
  • acrylonitrile
  • nickel and its derivatives

Some of these substances could already be subject to French indicative or mandatory OELVs.

This active monitoring of OELVs in addition to that of hazardous substances studied under REACh will contribute to increased protection of workers’ health and safety in Europe.

To benefit from support in setting up your environmental compliance programs, contact our experts!

6 New substances added to the REACh candidate list (SVHC)!

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On Tuesday, 15 January 2019 ECHA added 6 new substances to the Candidate List for Authorisation (SVHC) which now has a total of 197 entries.

Four of these entries concern Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) added because of their carcinogenic, persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) properties:

  • Benzo[k]fluoranthene,
  • Fluoranthene,
  • Phenanthrene,
  • Pyrene.

 

It should be noted that certain PAHs, including Benzo[k]fluoranthene, are already subject to restrictions in Annex XVII of REACH for certain uses (tyres, rubber or plastic objects, toys, etc.). An impact study is also underway on their use in granules on synthetic turf fields (sports fields or children’s playgrounds in particular).

2,2-bis(4′-hydroxyphenyl)-4-methylpentane has been added because of its toxic properties for reproduction.

Finally, 1,7,7,7-trimethyl-3-(phenylmethylene)bicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-one has been added as an endocrine disrupter (see our article about it).

Importers and distributors of articles have until 15 July 2019 to notify ECHA of the presence of these substances in their articles placed on the European market under the terms of Article 7.2 of REACH.

Downstream users are also concerned because they have an obligation to inform their customers of the presence of these newly added substances on the candidate list if they are present at more than 0.1% by weight/weight ratio of the article. (Article 33 of REACh).

The addition of these substances to the candidate list also opens the possibility of an addition to Annex XIV (substances subject to authorisation).

RoHS Deadline 22 July 2019 : What is the impact for you, and how to prepare?

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WEBINAR: Thursday 07 February – 11:00 to 12:00

 

ROHS – July 22, 2019 : Are you ready to start?

In July 2019, various points of the RoHS 2 and RoHS 2015 directives will come into effect and some exemptions expire.

During this webinar, we will present you with these changes to take into account in your RoHS programs and how to optimize your product compliance management approach.

Would you like to register for our webinar? Click here

New substance added to the candidate list!

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Following the European Commission’s implementing decision (EU) 2018/2013 of 14 December 2018, 1,7,7-trimethyl-3-(phenylmethylene)bicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-one(3-benzylidene camphor) was identified and added to the list of substances of very high concern (SVHC list).

This substance had already been presented to the Agency’s Member State Committee by Germany in February 2016. A file had been prepared in accordance with Annex XV to demonstrate the negative impact of this substance on the endocrine system and the environment. The Member State Committee  previously had not been able to rule on the dangerousness of 3-benzylidene camphor as several members have expressed doubts about the associated scientific analysis.

 

In June 2016, the CEM’s opinion was forwarded to the Commission for a decision on the status of 3-benzylidene camphor. Based on the data in the Annex XV dossier, the Commission and the members of the CEM have ruled that this substance alters the functioning of the endocrine system of wild animals and in particular has irreversible effects on fish fertility. 3-Benzylidene camphor was therefore subsequently recognized as an endocrine disruptor according to the WHO definition and added to the SVHC list on 18 December 2018. Users of this substance are now required to inform their customers of its presence in their product if its concentration is equal to or greater than 0.1% (Article 33 of REACh).

 

This same substance was already banned in cosmetic products distributed in France in 2011 following a decision by the Afssaps before being published in the official journal on 19 September 2011. The European Commission then prohibited it by amending Regulation 2015/1298 of 28 July 2015.

Source: DECISION
IMPLEMENTATION (EU) 2018/2013 OF THE COMMISSION of 14 December 2018

Porous polymers to combat greenhouse gases

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Membranes have been synthesized from new polymer materials. The latter has a two-dimensional structure that makes the polymer extremely porous at the molecular level. Thus, molecules are “sorted” according to their size or solubility.

Already used in various industrial processes such as the production of drinking water from saltwater, or dialysis in the medical field, these membranes are constantly evolving to improve the profitability and efficiency of molecular separation. To guarantee maximum productivity of this process, it is necessary to combine a high microporosity and a certain rigidity which gives the membranes a high permeability. This concept with low environmental impact is therefore very promising for solving greenhouse gas problems because it could filter the CO2 molecules contained in the atmosphere.

https://www.nature.com/articles/nmat4939

316LN withstands the test of additive manufacturing

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Materials at the Liten powder metallurgy platform.

A first for additive manufacturing by laser fusion on a powder bed:

Researchers at the Liten (Innovation Laboratory for New Energy Technologies and Nanomaterials) are able to produce parts made of 316LN, stainless steel used in certain applications requiring mechanical properties beyond the capabilities of conventional grades (304L, 316L), which are less rich in nitrogen.

With a density reaching 99% of the theoretical density of the material, the parts obtained have better characteristics than those obtained under identical conditions with 304L or 316L, as shown by tensile and impact resistance tests.

In addition, the amount of energy required to obtain these parts is 39% lower than the minimum published in the literature. This progress was achieved through a partnership with the Naval Group.

More information? Contact us

Innovation in materials through biomimicry

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In the race to develop new, better performing, cheaper and less polluting materials, more and more researchers are turning to biomimicry. Inspired by natural materials or the functioning of human cells, this is the objective of this research.

Bolt Threads, an American company, launched a cap made of a mixture of wool and artificial spider silk in December, increasing the product’s shelf life while maintaining the softness of the wool.

A researcher at Oxford University has developed a synthetic retina that mimics the functioning of the human retina, and can even surpass its color detection performance.

As a final example, the Harvard University professor’s team has developed a new material (“Shrilk”) from chitin, a molecule found in shells of crustaceans. With the same strength and toughness as aluminum at half the weight, this material holds great promise for many applications.

Despite very good results obtained in the laboratory, in terms of performance, energy requirements or even recycling possibilities, it will still take time to see these materials used on an industrial scale. As Robert Ritchie, Professor of Materials Science at the University of Berkeley, said, “it took decades of development of composite materials” to be used in a Boeing 787 today.

Take advantage of a materials database to expand your choice of materials!