Thailand: New Chemicals Law Takes Shape

Thailand has published the first draft of a chemicals law. With the new system for registration and classification, Thailand will take a precautionary approach to chemicals in the future.

The new law also redefines the organs and committees that are to monitor chemical management:

  • A national committee chaired by the prime minister or a delegate should meet at least once a year and create a national report.
  • An additional chemical assessment committee will evaluate and categorize chemicals.
  • Expert chemical management committees will be established for agricultural, public health, industrial, and other chemicals.

The law also calls for the creation of a national chemicals agency. It should support the committees and create a chemicals information center to collect information on chemicals, safe handling, and disposal.

The new draft divides chemicals into three categories:

  • List 1: Low-risk chemicals: Companies must meet the criteria for import and export, production,transportation and storage, and disposal and recycling.
  • List 2: High-risk chemicals: The use of such chemicals would require a license that is valid for six years.
  • List 3: Prohibited chemicals: Any use of such chemicals is prohibited, except for research and development. This list also includes chemicals that are present in small quantities because of production.

The chemical assessment committee is responsible for the classification, but the draft does not define any criteria for classification. The new classification system should replace the old one a year after the law goes into effect. Exactly when that would happen is still an open question.

A preliminary chemicals inventory currently exists in Thailand, and a final inventory is expected in 2020. Companies must evaluate chemicals that are not listed in the inventory before they can market the chemicals. Nevertheless, many issues are still open, including details on the registration process for new chemicals and how to deal with confidential business information (CBI).

Thailand’s Hazardous Substances Act (in Thai only), which has regulated handling of chemical substances since 1992, was revised only in April 2019. The revision simplified cross-border transports.

The current Hazardous Substances Act distinguishes four categories of industrial chemicals:

  • Type 1: Harmless chemicals. The production, import, and export of these chemicals do not require a license or notification of a governmental agency.
  • Type 2: Chemicals that pose a low hazard. Companies must notify governmental agencies of the production, import, and export of these chemicals. They must meet specific criteria and produce a registration certificate.
  • Type 3: Chemicals with an increased hazard potential. For the production, import, and export of these chemicals, companies must have approval and a license.
  • Type 4: Chemicals that are hazardous to humans and the environment. The production, import, and export of these chemicals is prohibited.

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