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Are chemicals in articles an obstacle for reaching environmental goals? - Missing links in EU chemical management
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
Stockholm University.
Umeå University.
Umeå University.
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2012 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 435, 280-289 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 435, 280-289 p.
Keyword [en]
Consumer articles, Priority substances, REACH, The Water Framework Directive, The Sewage Sludge Directive, EU environmental policy
National Category
Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-105168DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.07.021ISI: 000310396100034ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84864451776OAI: diva2:570173

QC 20121206

Available from: 2012-11-16 Created: 2012-11-16 Last updated: 2012-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Chemicals in consumer products: Towards a safe and sustainable use
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Chemicals in consumer products: Towards a safe and sustainable use
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Health and environmental risks associated with emissions of hazardous chemicals from articles, including everyday consumer products such as clothes and toys, have become widely acknowledged internationally, particularly in the EU. This thesis contributes to new understandings of how these risks are currently managed within the EU and recommends actions for ensuring a safe and sustainable use of chemicals in articles.

Paper I provides an overview and comparative analysis of regulatory strategies for managing risks of chemicals in articles in the EU. The in-depth analysis, which is focused on the Toys Safety Directive, the RoHS Directive, and REACH, shows that the legislations differ significantly. Differences include e.g. what criteria are used for the selection of substances to be targeted for regulation, and the kind of requirements and restrictions applied to the selected substances. It is concluded that product-specific directives are important complements to REACH in order to ensure a safe use of chemicals in articles.

Paper II evaluates 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). The results show that the majority of the chemicals that are prioritized for phase-out under the WFD or for concentration restrictions in sludge and soil under the SSD are allowed to be used in articles according to REACH. In order to avoid end-of-pipe problems and to increase resource efficiency, it is argued that it is necessary to minimize the input of chemicals identified as hazardous to health or the environment into articles.

Paper III aims to clarify what the substitution principle means and how it can reasonably be applied as part of chemical policies. A general definition is proposed that gives equal weight to hazard, functionality and economical considerations, while at the same time recognizing that the aim of the substitution principle is to reduce hazards to human health and the environment. This paper also summarizes major methods to promote and implement the principle, discusses legislative approaches with regard to their ability to promote substitution of hazardous chemicals, and makes proposals for an efficient implementation of the principle.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. 36 p.
Theses in Risk and Safety from the Division of Philosophy at the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1654-627X ; 7
consumer products, articles, hazardous chemicals, risk management, chemicals regulation, REACH, substitution, regulatory toxicology, European Union
National Category
Natural Sciences
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-104826 (URN)978-91-7501-527-9 (ISBN)
2012-11-23, Seminarierum 231, Teknikringen 78 B, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

QC 20121119

Available from: 2012-11-19 Created: 2012-11-13 Last updated: 2012-11-19Bibliographically approved

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