Regulation of lead substances in Europe needs a better balance, says the ILA
Regulators are failing to take into account some of the most important factors, such as the overall economic benefits and effectiveness of existing regulation, when making decisions about the future use of chemical substances, says the International Lead Association.
In a presentation by ILA Managing Director, Dr Andy Bush, to the 57th session of the International Lead and Zinc Study Group, in Lisbon, last week, that focused on the EU’s REACH Regulation, Dr Bush said that the current EU chemical management regulatory process ‘lacked sophistication’.
He said: “There needs to be a better balance when regulating chemical substances. Lead compounds are being increasingly regulated on the basis that they are hazardous substances with a chequered history, rather than applying a better appreciation of the societal benefits and the potential risks from existing applications.
“Not enough consideration is being given to the efforts that the lead industry has made to manage the health and environmental risks of these materials properly, or taking into account the vital part that substances, such as lead, play in industry and society.”
Dr Bush referred to the recent proposed REACH candidate listing for authorisation by the EU Commission of 21 lead compounds, including four lead compounds (lead monoxide, lead tetroxide, pentalead tetraoxide sulphate, and tetralead trioxide sulphate) which are critical raw materials used in the manufacture of lead-acid batteries.
The lead-acid battery industry would therefore be under threat if the use of these substances was restricted under the REACH regulation. There are currently no replacement substances for these compounds in lead-acid battery manufacture and currently there are no commercialised alternative battery chemistries that can replace lead-acid in all its applications.