REACH (Registration, Evaluation & Authorisation of Chemicals) is a vast piece of legislation which affects all companies using chemical substances. The main burden of the legislation falls on manufacturers and suppliers of substances, but formulators (eg,manufacturers of rubber compounds), and manufacturers and users of rubber articles also have significant responsibilities. The aim is for ECHA (the European CHemicals Agency) to register all chemicals, and to ensure that the hazards that may arise from using them are identified and controlled. It includes a mechanism for dealing with those which are suspected of causing long term harm to the environment, or to human health (eg carcinogens and endocrine system disruptors). This is achieved by designating them as:
SVHC- Substances of Very High Concern
Such substances are then studied in depth, and, over a period of years, brought into a control system which authorises their use only where considered essential, and where suitable safeguards are in place. The first SVHCs were designated at the end of 2008, and the first authorisation came into place in 2013.
This has major implications for producers of articles if the substance concerned is important for achieving the desired properties in the product. Not only must the manufacturer comply with onerous notification requirements relating to the presence of an SVHC in an article, there is also a risk that the substance will either, not be authorised for use in that product, or be subject to restrictions, and an alternative will need to be found.
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