Germany’s Federal Environment Agency Looks at Mobile Hazardous Substances

Persistent, mobile, and toxic (PMT) substances should be identified by specific criteria and regulated accordingly. That’s the recommendation of Michael Neumann of the chemical safety department of the Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) at a two-day workshop sponsored by the UBA and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI).

PMTs do not bind themselves to soil but sink and end up in ground and drinking water. That’s why experts classify them as substances of very high concern, just as they classify persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) substances.

The Norwegians have compiled a list of 240 substances that are already registered under REACH, all of which fulfill the longstanding recommended criteria for PMT and very persistent, very mobile (vPvM) substances. The UBA also has its eye on certain mobile hazardous substances. In the new edition of Assessment of persistence, mobility and toxicity (PMT) of 167 REACH registered substances issued in April, it reported on the results of its studies. Some 134 of the 167 substances examined displayed PMT characteristics. Accordingly, the authors of the UBA study recommend that the substances undergo additional studies and be subject to scientific and regulatory monitoring. Nevertheless, the authors concede a lack of the experimental data that would be needed for a secure assessment. That’s why they urge manufacturers, importers, and users of chemicals to deliver higher-quality data. Nonetheless, the results of this project helped tighten the PMT criteria under REACH. The UBA wants to present an updated version of the criteria as early as May of this year. In May of last year, it issued a press release that emphasized the need for such criteria.

Industry, however, warns of a rush to judgment. So far, the criteria have not been formulated well, said Ronald Bock of the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC). He called for a better foundation of data.

For more background information, please see the workshop’s document, PMT and vPvM substances under REACH.

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