Chemicals Coffee Time Monthly, November 2022
Happy Friday! I hope this finds you and your family and friends safe and well.
November has been busy for regulatory affairs in both the EU and UK, and it’s mainly good news, for a change! So let’s dive straight in.
A good day for science – Titanium Dioxide is Innocent!
You may have seen the newsflash on Wednesday 23rd November 2022, when we found out that the General Court of the European Court of Justice has ruled that the Harmonised Classification of Titanium Dioxide as a carcinogen, which was brought in under the 14th ATP to EU-CLP, is to be annulled.
And thanks to Aaron Mcloughlin of FleishmanHillard Hillard who has provided the full decision: https://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.js… (a mere 70 minute read….)
Obviously, this ruling only applies to the EU Harmonised Classification, not the GB Mandatory Classification. There are also likely to be consequences for downstream regulations, such as cosmetics and food safety regulations, both in the EU and UK. And as Anna Thomason of Aquaspersions Limited pointed out via email “It’s still on the CAL PROP 65“.
We also need to be careful to understand whether Titanium Dioxide can contain asbestos in any significant concentrations, because, as we learned earlier this year, it is likely that it is asbestos in Talc which has given rise to health problems in people who used it over a long period of time, see https://www.ghsclassificationcourses.com/chemicals… (also open access, no sign in required). (By the way, asbestos is identified in samples through microscopy, see eg. ALS Global https://www.alsglobal.eu/specialities/asbestos/ana… ).
However, a quick examination of the mineralogy of Talc, Asbestos and Titanium Dioxide reveals that both Talc and Asbestos are metamorphic rocks, with similar silicate chemistry, whereas Titanium Dioxide (and its most important ore, ilmenite) are igneous rocks. So it’s easy to see how Talc could have Asbestos impurities, but it’s unlikely that Titanium Dioxide would contain it. (I hope to go into this area in more detail soon, as I believe it’s important when reviewing IARC monograph 93, Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide and Talc, see https://publications.iarc.fr/111 ).
It’s also a very important ruling for other substances:
- My colleague Alison Potts points out that it’s the first time we have seen a Harmonised Classification overturned in a court of law.
- And you may remember that some time ago, ECHA said that they would use Titanium Dioxide as the first substance where particle size was effectively carcinogenic, and then roll that classification out to all PSLTs, that is Poorly Soluble Low Toxic materials. They seem to have gone quiet on this proposal recently, perhaps because the court case was in the pipeline, but with a bit of luck this ruling means this proposal won’t be implemented.
There are a number of unresolved questions, at the time of writing:
- Will there be an appeal against this decision? “NOTE: An appeal, limited to points of law only, may be brought before the Court of Justice against the decision of the General Court within two months and ten days of notification of the decision.” (the deadline for launching an appeal should be 2nd February 2023, if I’ve got my sums right)
- How will the decision be implemented? via ATP? or does it come into effect immediately, without the need for legislative change?
- What does this mean for all of the (many) EU downstream regulations which have been altered on the presumption that Titanium Dioxide is definitely carcinogenic, which the court decision overturns? these include human food and animal feedstuffs; cosmetics; pharmaceutical ingredients; etc. If Titanium Dioxide is “named” in these regulations, will it need to be removed? how will that be carried out? and how long will it take?
- And what is the UK going to do? As the carcinogenicity classification was implemented in the 14th ATP, we have a Mandatory Classification which will diverge from the EU’s Harmonised Classification, once the updates are made in the EU
So overall, this is good news, but it might take some time to resolve.
News on the EU-CLP “Green Deal” amendment
Aaron McLouglin also notes on LinkedIn: Something to keep some entertained over Christmas. Santa will deliver the CLP Delegated Act and the ordinary legislative proposal on 19 December. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/activity-6999306721….
This is a particularly important issue, as it brings in PBT and vPvB, PMT/vPvM, human endocrine disruptors and environmental endocrine disruptors effectively as new hazard classifications but via the EUH statement route.
The fact that the EC are doing this via ATP and not via the normal channels has caused concern among specialist environmental lawyers, as well as within the chemical industry itself.
Only a cynic would suggest that they are bringing it out just before the Christmas holiday to reduce the time for comments and the likelihood of push-back from industry.
UK-REACH deadlines put back by 3 years (with a bit of luck!)
The other major news which was announced earlier this week is that DEFRA published the government response to a consultation on the UK-REACH deadlines, see summary of responses and government response . This showed widespread industry support for extending the deadlines by 3 years, and the government now proposes to adopt this, subject to the agreement of the devolved governments (as REACH is an environmental legislation, as well as safety, and environment is carried out in each UK country individually).
As you are probably aware, this proposal extends all 3 UK-REACH deadlines by 3 years which would mean:
- Deadline 1 of 27 October 2023 would become 27th October 2026 for 1000 tonnes or more per year; or Carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMRs) – 1 tonne or more per year; or Very toxic to aquatic organisms (acute or chronic) – 100 tonnes or more per year; or Candidate list substances (as at 31 December 2020)
- Deadline 2 of 27 October 2025 would become 27th October 2028 for 100 tonnes or more per year; or Candidate list substances (as at 27 October 2023, presumably this will be altered to Candidate list substances as at 27 October 2026)
- Deadline 3 of 27 October 2027 – would become 27th October 2030 for 1 tonne or more per year
However, this will depend on the agreement of the devolved parliaments of the UK, as REACH is considered an environmental regulation as much as a chemical safety regulation, and therefore comes under scope of each individual country in the UK. As a minimum, Wales and Scotland will need to be consulted, although Northern Ireland may not be included as (a) it’s under EU-REACH at the moment under the Northern Ireland Protocol and (b) Stormont is in a political impasse and hasn’t sat for months.
Normally, we could expect such a decision, which is clearly in the chemical industry’s interests, to go through easily, but unfortunately there have been a series of incidents recently which may mean that the devolved governments decide to throw a spanner in the works.
- The Scottish Government have just lost a Supreme Court case over whether they can call a “non-binding” referendum on Scottish Independence, otherwise known as “IndyRef2”. They lost this case in a unanimous verdict, which states that this is not within the scope of the Scottish Government (or the other devolved Governments), but a matter for the UK Government as a whole, see https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/supreme-court…
- Westminster is proposing to cut the wages of MSPs in Northern Ireland, as Stormont has not been sitting, which does seem a bit unfair as presumably MSPs will still have been liaising with the civil service, doing constituency work etc, even if debating is currently suspended: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9682/ (as Alison notes, “Not something I was expecting to see, but I suppose Stormont is being held to a higher standard than Westminster“. I think we have all been surprised by the fact that Matt Hancock has been allowed to draw his MP’s salary during his stint in the Australian jungle on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”, although exactly how much work he has been able to do on their behalf during that time is a matter of conjecture, see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-6365…).
- And finally, England beat Wales to knock them out of the World Cup! https://www.msn.com/en-gb/sport/football/wales-vs-…
We must hope that the Devolved Parliaments are able to see beyond these current difficulties to permit the extension of the UK-REACH deadlines to go ahead.
Progress on implementing UK-REACH responses published – Environmental Audit Committee
In other UK-REACH implementation news, the Environmental Audit Committee published the written responses last Friday 25th November, after last week’s Chemicals Coffee Time was published. For reference, you can look at them all here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/7022/progres… . Well done to everyone who took the time to respond on such an important issue. (TT Environmental did respond, but in our own right and not on behalf of the Chemical Regulations Self Help Group, and this was made clear in our submission).
An absolutely fascinating article on mummification techniques https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/unwrapping-ancient-egyptian-chemistry/4016457.article
Did you see the wonderful Google Doodle on Marie Tharp earlier this month? How the North Atlantic Rift was discovered through painstaking work, including comparing answers from another discipline and finding congruence. https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2022/11/21/google….
The Weekend Recipe
It’s winter, it’s cold, and we need a nice warming bake to keep everyone cheerful. I thought a nice dark sticky fruity gingerbread might do the trick, and I used to make this one a lot when I was still at school (40 years ago! where does the time go?)
- 8 oz plain flour
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 3 ounces fruit, eg 2 oz sultanas and 1 oz crystallised ginger or stem ginger (chopped small) – although I tend to use rather more fruit than this
- 1 1/2 oz brown sugar
- 1 egg (or egg equivalent if vegan)
- 1/4 pint milk
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 4 oz butter (or margarine if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan)
- 8 oz black treacle (or you can use golden syrup or honey for a lighter gingerbread, or a combination of these)
Set your oven to Gas Mark 4 (or 3 if you have a “quick oven” – I think I’ll use that temperature next time), and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin or 9 inch square cake tin. (I prefer a loaf tin for this style of gingerbread). Sift the flour into a large bowl and use a balloon whisk to stir in the dried spices. Then stir in the dried fruit evenly using a spoon. Place the butter, sugar and treacle together in a pan and melt together over a slow heat, and don’t let it boil or bubble. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, and the butter melted, take off the heat, allow to cool slightly. While it cools, heat the milk a little in the microwave (just warm, not boiling!), and have the bicarbonate of soda on hand ready to add. Beat the egg ready as well. Then pour into the butter/sugar/treacle mix into the flour, add the egg, and then pour the bicarb of soda into the warm milk, where it will froth up. Stir the bicarb into the milk, pour immediately into the rest of the ingredients and beat gently until combined (but don’t over-beat it). Pour into your prepared tin and place on a baking tray in the middle of your oven.
Cooking time for the square cake tin is around 3/4 of an hour, a loaf tin may take longer. Place the tin on your wire rack and cool for at least 15 minutes then turn out onto the rack to finish cooling. Don’t worry if your loaf sinks a bit, as long as it’s cooked through that’s the main thing. The gingerbread will be especially sticky at any sunk parts. (I made this once for a fundraising day, when I was around 17, and was told off for not bringing the sunk pieces – I had to go back and retrieve them for the elderly gentleman who complained!). This keeps well, and is best eaten in slices with butter (and cheese, if you are from Yorkshire). Can also be frozen.
Top tips: if your kitchen is cold, warm the tin of treacle in the oven or in a warm water-bath, so it pours more freely. And use a spatula to scrape all the treacly goodness from the pan into the baking bowl, then the bowl into the baking tin.
Reasons to be Cheerful
Our video snippets in November have mainly been Harry and Paul on Dragon’s Den, for example The Armchair to Moped Eco Perambulator:
and “I can’t believe it’s not Custard”
And I couldn’t resist “Fired Twitter Employee looks for first real job” as well:
The latter clip is with apologies to all Twitter employees who’ve been made redundant – I walked that path in 1997, and it’s not at all pleasant. My top tip is to follow JANE FERRÉ (MCIPD) on LinkedIn, as she was laid off twice in a single year, and provides excellent career advice on overcoming this hurdle. Her CV advice is particularly good (and no, I’m not on commission!).
Many thanks for reading this LinkedIn newsletter, and many thanks to everyone who has contributed. If you have anything you’d like to share, please email me and I’ll do my best to include it in the next newsletter.
It would be great if you’d like to subscribe to this newsletter, or even our weekly email one https://www.ghsclassificationcourses.com/home/news… (which includes access to the email archive).
Look forward to chatting to you in December,
Janet Greenwood, TT Environmental Ltd