February 15, 2016 by Ed Stutt

I recently attended an IGHRC Awareness Day in York giving an update on the progress of REACH. IGHRC is the Interdepartmental Group on Health Risks from Chemicals and the aim of the meeting was to provide an update on how REACH activities are progressing from the perspectives of UK regulatory bodies, industry and ECHA. During the day there were speakers from ECHA, HSE, Cranfield University and industry who talked about the background and principles of REACH and how it was working in practice, with a focus on the process of Authorisation for substances of very high concern (SVHCs).

It was highlighted that Authorisations are specific to a certain supply chain and we were informed that there have been applications for 12 of the 31 substances listed on Annex XIV (primarily for uses of the phthalates and chromates). It was interesting to hear that ECHA are expecting registration of 25,000 substances in 2018 with the receipt of up to 70,000 dossiers. It is anticipated that the SIEFs involved will generally be smaller in size and that there will be a greater proportion of independent registrants. Even though 2018 represents the third and final registration deadline for submissions to REACH the European Commission apparently considers REACH to be very much in its infancy!

It was reported that there will be updated guidance on the assessment of alternatives by mid 2016 (working towards the 2018 deadline) as well as further developments on the Read Across Assessment Framework (RAAF). In terms of assessment criteria for use in occupational exposure assessment there are ongoing initiatives to align the work of SCOEL and ECHA’s Risk Assessment Committee (aka the RAC), who both currently publish exposure limits for the workplace. A speaker from industry well versed in the Authorisation process emphasised that applications should always base their assessment on the RAC-published ‘reference DNEL’.