Inspections in 16 EU member states have shown that 23% of imported products fail to meet the requirements of REACH and the CLP Regulation. The ECHA made the announcement in a press release. The inspections were part of a large pilot project of the ECHA Enforcement Forum that began in March and examined around 1,389 products at enforcement agencies and customs inspectors. Some 321 of the products violated applicable EU law.
During the examinations, the inspectors took an especially close look at heavy-metal containing products like jewelry and metal items. They found lead, nickel, and above all high concentration of cadmium in 17% of about 1,225 products, which are prohibited by REACH.
The overwhelming majority of the problematic products came from China. The rest came from Thailand, the United Arab Emirate, Turkey, and India.
The violations of the CLP Regulation involve incorrect labeling. In these cases, the text is not written in the local language or the labels do not carry pictograms and signal words. Surprisingly, most of the incorrectly labeled products came from the United States. The ECHA believes that the differing labeling systems used in the United States and in the EU are the cause of the problem.
Industry has long warned of illegal EU imports that hinder competition and called for stricter monitoring, especially for online items, along with more-thorough inspections by customs agencies. According to the European chemical association CEFIC, these considerations must become a central element of future EU chemicals policy.
In its report, the ECHA proposes recommendations (p. 55ff) for importers. They should:
- Check the goods before import for prohibited and/or restricted chemicals and, if required, switch to other vendors
- Work with national help desk ahead of time to become familiar with legal requirements
The ECHA sees a major weakness in the lack of a requirement for importers to supply safety data sheets at the time of import. That’s why it recommended that the EU Commission made this supply a legal requirement.
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