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EU REACH: Annex XVII restriction - ECHA launched 1st public consultation on formaldehyde released from consumer articles

MARCH 2019 - Relevant for: Electrical and electronics, Hardlines, Softlines, Toys and children's products

On 20 March 2019, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) launched the 1st public consultation on the proposal to restrict formaldehyde released from consumer articles1.

The basis of proposed restriction2,3 concerns consumer exposure to formaldehyde in indoor environments. Formaldehyde is mainly used as a chemical intermediate in the production of formaldehyde-based resins and other chemicals. Such formaldehyde-based resins are the biggest group of formaldehyde releasers which can release formaldehyde under foreseeable conditions of use.

Formaldehyde-based resins are widely used as adhesives and binders in the woodworking, pulp and paper, as well as the synthetic vitreous fibre industries, in the production of plastics and coatings, and in textile finishing. Consumers can be exposed to formaldehyde by breathing air containing off-gassed formaldehyde, and the liquid form formaldehyde can be absorbed through the skin. Skin contact from the use of articles by consumers is not considered further in this proposal, because this exposure route has been addressed by Regulation (EU) 2018/15134 to restrict the use of CMR substances in clothing, textiles and footwear. Therefore, this proposed restriction focuses on consumers’ exposure to formaldehyde contained in indoor air through inhalation.

This proposed restriction targets all articles for consumer use. All interested parties can comment on the proposal using the ECHA website until the end of the consultation period on 20 September 2019. The final opinions of both ECHA’s Committees (Committee of Risk Assessment (RAC) and Committee of Socio-Economic Assessment (SEAC)) are expected to be available by March 2020. ECHA will send the final opinions to the European Commission, which will take the decision whether to include the proposed restriction in Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation.

Table A. Proposed restriction on formaldehyde released from consumer articles

Target substances

Formaldehyde

Proposed scope of restriction

Articles

Proposed limit

0.124 mg/m3 in the air of a test chamber used under the conditions prescribed in EN 717-1

Proposed exemption

  • Articles subject to Regulation (EU) 2018/1513, i.e. clothing, textile accessories and footwear;
  • The use of formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers as biocide subject to Regulation (EU) 528/2012.

Proposed date of application

12 months from the date of entry into force

[1] Public consultation on Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasers

[2] Report submitted for the restriction proposal

[3] Information note on public consultation

[4] E-ssentials volume 20, 2018 - EU REACH: Restriction on CMRs in clothing, textiles and footwear published

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