EU Provides Clarity on the Use of Hazardous Chemicals

By publishing Guiding Criteria and Principles for the Essential Use Concept in EU Legislation Dealing with Chemicals, the EU has now clarified the cases in which substances proven to harm the environment and health may still be used. In fact, no EU legislation to date contains a definition of the essential uses of substances. With the guidelines, the EU now wants to ensure legal certainty in authorization and restriction decisions. The definition could be important in the upcoming restriction proposal for PFAS, for example.

Key Criteria

The document on page five lists ten groups of the most-hazardous chemicals, primarily endocrine disruptors (EDCs), as well as carcinogenic and persistent, mobile, and toxic substances. They may be authorized only when:

  • Their use is essential for health and safety or critical to the functioning of society
  • There are no acceptable alternatives

Section III of the Appendix to the 23-page document helps readers assess whether a use is essential. Those seeking advice will also find tables with criteria that must be met to justify use of the substances.

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