RAC adopts ten scientific opinions
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The Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has adopted opinions on eight proposals for harmonised classification and labelling across Europe and two opinions on restriction proposals during its 16th meeting, held 7-10 June 2011 in Helsinki.
Helsinki, 15 June 2011
RAC opinions on harmonised classification and labelling:
Three types of white spirit
RAC agreed with the proposal from Denmark, to classify three types of white spirit for damage to the central nervous system through prolonged or repeated exposure via inhalation.
All types of white spirit already have a harmonised classification as "may be fatal if swallowed and enters airway". Two of the white spirit types also have a harmonised classification as carcinogens and mutagens.
White spirit is used as an extraction, cleaning, and degreasing solvent, and as a solvent in aerosols, paints, wood preservatives, asphalt products, lacquers and varnishes.
The original proposal by France, was to classify chloroform for mutagenicity, however, RAC concluded in the opinion not to classify chloroform in this manner. Chloroform already has a harmonised classification for carcinogenicity, as toxic for reproduction, for renal and severe nasal effects after repeated exposure, for acute toxicity, for eye and skin irritation, as well as it may cause drowsiness or dizziness.
Chloroform is used mainly as a raw material in the production of hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22. Chloroform is used in other applications including as a production and extraction solvent, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, as a degreasing agent and as a chemical intermediate in the production of dyes, pesticides and other substances.
RAC agreed with the proposal from France, to classify bifenthrin as a suspected carcinogen, as acutely toxic (by the oral and inhalation route), as a skin sensitiser, for toxicity to the nervous system after repeated exposure and as hazardous to the aquatic environment. The classification of this substance is not currently harmonised at EU level.
Bifenthrin is used as a biocidal product.
Reaction mass of 2,4,4-trimethylpent-1-ene and 2,4,4-trimethylpent-2-ene
RAC agreed with the proposal from Germany, to classify 2,4,4-trimethylpentene as flammable liquid and vapour, as aspiration hazard, and as may cause drowsiness or dizziness after single exposure. The classification of this substance is not currently harmonised at EU level.
2,4,4-trimethylpentene is mainly used as a chemical intermediate.
Aluminium-magnesium-zinc-carbonate-hydroxide already has a harmonised classification as hazardous for the aquatic environment. The original proposal from the Netherlands was to remove this classification. However, based on the available information, RAC recommended to keep the classification as hazardous to the aquatic environment but to lower the category.
Aluminium-magnesium-zinc-carbonate-hydroxide is used as a stabiliser in the polymer industry.
Indoxacarb and indoxacarb (enantiomeric reaction mass 75:25 S:R)
RAC agreed with the proposal from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, to classify indoxacarb and indoxacarb (enantiomeric reaction mass 75:25 S:R) as acutely toxic by the oral and inhalation route, as skin sensitiser, as toxic to the blood, nervous system and heart after repeated exposure and as hazardous to the aquatic environment. The classification of this substance is not currently harmonised at EU level.
Indoxacarb is used as a biocidal and pesticidal product (insecticide).
RAC agreed with the proposal from France, to classify flufenoxuron as potentially causing harm to breast-fed babies and as hazardous to the aquatic environment. RAC did not agree with the proposal from France, to classify flufenoxuron for red blood cell toxicity after repeated exposure. The classification of this substance is not currently harmonised at EU level.
Flufenoxuron is used as a plant protection product and a biocidal product (wood preservative and insecticide).
RAC agreed with the proposal from Germany, to classify Vinyl acetate as acutely toxic by the inhalation route, as toxic to the respiratory system after single exposure, as suspected carcinogen. RAC disagreed with the proposal to add the additional risk phrase "May form explosive peroxides" to the non-stabilised form of Vinyl acetate. Vinyl acetate already has a harmonised classification as flammable liquid.
Vinyl acetate is mainly used to manufacture polymers that are used in e.g. water-based paints, adhesives and paper coatings.
RAC opinions on restrictions intended to reduce the emissions of mercury:
Mercury is familiar to most people as the silver-coloured liquid which expands and contracts in a thermometer to show the temperature. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at ambient temperature. It is a chemical element and therefore indestructible. This means that there is a "global pool" of mercury circulating in society and the environment - between air, water, sediments, soil and living organisms.
Mercury and most of its compounds are highly toxic to humans, animals and ecosystems. High doses can be fatal to humans, but even relatively low doses can seriously affect the nervous system and have been linked with possible harmful effects on the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems. In the presence of bacteria, mercury can change into methylmercury, its most toxic form. Methylmercury readily passes through both the placenta and the blood-brain barrier, so exposure to women of child-bearing age and of children, is of greatest concern.
The European Union has made considerable progress in addressing the global challenges of mercury since it launched the EU mercury strategy in 2005. This EU mercury strategy is a comprehensive plan addressing mercury pollution both in the EU and globally. For more information go to: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/mercury/index.htm
The restrictions proposed by ECHA on behalf of the European Commission and by Norway, are measures to further reduce mercury emissions and protect against exposure, especially to methylmercury found in fish.
Mercury in measuring devices
RAC agreed with the proposal by ECHA for restricting mercury in several measuring devices for professional and industrial use with some modifications. RAC is of the opinion that the proposed restriction will effectively reduce the amount of mercury being released into the environment from measuring devices containing mercury, contribute to a reduction in the level of environmental or occupational exposure to mercury of humans and environmental biota and increase the use of alternative measuring devices. Therefore the restriction would substantially reduce the risk to humans and the environment.
RAC agreed with the proposal by Norway, for restricting the manufacturing, placing on the market and use of five phenylmercury compounds with some modifications. The five phenylmercury compounds are used as catalysts in polyurethane systems for coating, adhesive, sealant and elastomer applications. Implementation of this restriction will avoid mercury use in articles or parts of articles placed on the EU market. The proposed restriction will reduce the emissions of mercury and the associated risk to humans and the environment. RAC considered that additional measures may be needed to ensure that mercury containing alternatives will not be used in future.
The role of RAC in EU regulatory processes
RAC is responsible for preparing scientific opinions of the Agency on proposals for harmonised classification and labelling and restrictions, as well as specific questions relating to risks of chemicals to human health or the environment. The final decision for harmonised classification and labelling as well as for proposals for restrictions will be taken by the European Commission through a committee procedure.
Further information about RAC is available here