China consults on second batch of priority chemicals

Abstract

China is consulting until 31 May on a second batch of chemicals it has selected for ‘priority control’ because they are considered hazardous, highly bio-accumulative and pose the greatest risk to the environment and human health.

China is consulting until 31 May on a second batch of chemicals it has selected for ‘priority control’ because they are considered hazardous, highly bio-accumulative and pose the greatest risk to the environment and human health.

The list contains 19 substances or groups of substances (see box). While most of the substances are controlled in other jurisdictions, several of them are not currently regulated in China. 

The substances have been selected based on whether:

  • it is subject to restrictions in one or more developed country;

  • it is manufactured in large quantities in China or has high potential for environmental exposure, including properties of persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity (PBT); or

  • an international organisation or official agency has confirmed it to be a category 1A carcinogen, mutagen or reprotoxic (CMR) substance – but the documents do not indicate which classification system the government is using.

Heng Li, senior associate at law firm Mayer Brown told Chemical Watch that, eventually, these chemicals will be governed by the incoming Environmental Risk Assessment and Control Regulation for Chemical Substances (Erac).

Once approved, Erac – which is currently in draft – will become China’s overarching chemical framework, managing both new and existing chemical substances. The draft regulation, which will affect any company handling chemicals, is similar to TSCA in the US or Japan’s Chemical Substances Control Law (CSCL) in that it would require pre-market approval of new substances and risk evaluation of certain existing ones.

"According to policies issued a few years ago, the MEE will continue to publish additional batches of priority control chemicals," said Ms Li.

"For now there is no real legal basis for governing these substances. The MEE provides very general requirements with various measures but it is not so specific over which measures apply to which substances. At the moment it is very general," she explained.

However, the list serves as "a clear message for the future and companies should pay attention to the substances on the list," ERM’s China product stewardship expert told Chemical Watch.

The MEE (then MEP) published the first batch of 22 substances at the end of 2017, but there has been no movement to regulate them since their publication.


International assessments

The list contains three of the six persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) asked companies to provide information on in October last year.

The second batch also includes six substances that the US EPA designated in December last year as high-priority substances to undergo a risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):

The US EPA is due to publish final evaluations on these substances by December 2022. The initial scope documents, which identify what uses of the chemical the EPA will evaluate, are due by 22 June this year.

The consultation was published on 7 May but signed by the MEE, in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the National Health Commission (NHC), on 17 April.


Second batch of priority control substances

2,4,6-tri-tert-butylphenol

used as an antioxidant in industrial applications

phenol, isopropylated, phosphate (3:1) 

a flame retardant used in lubricants and fluids

pentachlorobenzenethiol

used in the rubber industry to facilitate processing

cyanide

in China it is used in dyes, pesticides and the medical sector, among others

benzene

an important basic organic chemical raw material in China, according to the consultation documents

toluene

an important basic organic chemical raw material in China

tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate

an additive flame retardant used for synthetic materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC); an SVHC included on the candidate list

1,2-dichloropropane

a chlorinated solvent. China has some environmental controls in place

1,1-dichloroethylene

used as an organic synthesis intermediate

2,4-dinitrotoluene

an intermediate in the production of polyurethanes; an SVHC included on the candidate list. China has some environmental controls in place

o-toluidine

used the manufacture of dyes; an SVHC included on the candidate list

thallium

a commonly used metal in the electronics industry

Seven polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

benzo[def]chrysene 

an SVHC included on the candidate list

anthracene

used in the production of dyes; an SVHC included on the candidate list

benz[a]anthracene

an SVHC included on the candidate list

benzo[e]acephenanthrylene

some uses of this substance are restricted in the EU under Annex XVII of REACH

benzo[k]fluoranthene

an SVHC included on the candidate list

chrysene

an SVHC included on the candidate list

dibenz[a,h]anthracene

some uses of this substance are restricted under Annex XVII of REACH

Two halogenated hydrocarbons

pentachlorobenzene (PeCB)

an intermediate used in the manufacture of pesticides

1,4-dichlorobenzene

used as a disinfectant and pesticide

Four phthalates

di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)

used as a plasticiser in the production of PVC, rubber paint and other products; an SVHC included on the candidate list. China has some environmental and drinking water controls in place for DEHP

dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

used as a plasticiser for alkyd resin, rubber and other products; an SVHC included on the candidate list. China restricts its content in some products and has some environmental controls in place

butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP)

used as a plasticiser for synthetic materials; an SVHC included in the candidate list. China limits the content of BBP in products

di-isobutyl phthalate (DIBP)

a plasticiser used in the production of PVC and other products; an SVHC included in the candidate list

Six POPs

hexachlorobenzene

a fungicide banned under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and a halogenated hydrocarbon

polychlorinated dibenzo-para-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) [listed as one entry on Chinese list]

these substances are subject to Annex C (unintentional production) of the Stockholm Convention

pentadecafluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

used as an industrial surfactant; an SVHC included on the candidate list. This substance is controlled by the Stockholm Convention

hexachlorobuta-1,3-diene (hexachlorobutadiene)

a solvent used in the manufacture of rubber compounds and as a hydraulic, heat transfer or transformer fluid. This substance is controlled by the Stockholm Convention

pentachlorophenol (PCB)

an organochlorine compound used as a pesticide, herbicide and a disinfectant. It is controlled by the Stockholm Convention

 Source from Chemicalwatch


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