EU Court Creates Uncertainty Regarding REACH Notifications on Substances of Very High Concern

18 September 2015

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ruled that the notification threshold of 0.1% for “substances of very high concern” (SVHCs) applies to each component of a manufactured article, not to the article as a whole, as has been the official guidance from the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). It is unclear at this point when this change will become effective.

According to the court decision, manufacturers must notify the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) when any component of a complex product contains SVHCs exceeding the 0.1% threshold established by REACH. Previously, manufacturers were obligated to declare the presence of substances above 0.1% in the entire article.

The obligation to notify ECHA applies only to manufacturers; however, additional operators along the supply chain – such as importers and suppliers – are responsible for notifying recipients and consumers (upon request) when a substance(s) of very high concern is found in a concentration above 0.1% in any component part of their articles.

The SVHC Candidate List currently contains 163 chemicals. While most of these will not be intentionally used in toys, it is possible that some may exist as unintended contaminants, unreacted precursors/intermediates, or breakdown products at levels approaching 0.1%. This will make it even more critical that toy manufacturers know what is in their products, and that they perform a rigorous chemical safety assessment of their toys, as required by the revised EU Toy Safety Directive.

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