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ECHA invites comments on Swedish restrictions proposal
Nov '13
By 29 November 2013, two expert committees at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) would like to receive stakeholder comments on a restrictions proposal submitted by Sweden in the framework of the REACH Regulation.

The aim of the proposal is to restrict the use of nonylphenols (NPs) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in textile articles. Hong Kong traders should know that the restrictions proposal targets NP and NPE in textile clothing, fabric accessories and interior textile articles (including their prints). Since 2005, the use of NPs and NPEs, in concentrations of 0.1% or more, is restricted within the European Union in the manufacturing of textiles.

However, a majority of textiles purchased within the EU are imported from manufacturers and suppliers outside the EU, including from Hong Kong and mainland China. Sweden claims that these suppliers still use NPs and NPEs today, for example as a detergent or as an emulsifying agent, in the manufacturing of their textiles. After being imported into the European Union, the textile articles will be washed and residues of NPs and NPEs will be released into waste water.

Eventually, these toxic substances will end up in the aquatic environment. NPs enter the aquatic life directly as NPs, or as breakdown products from NPEs. Sweden’s main concern is the protection of the environment from these toxic substances. NPs are toxic and hormone-disrupting substances that may cause long-term adverse effects to the aquatic environment.

On the basis of the information above, Sweden has submitted to ECHA a REACH Annex XV report proposing the following restriction for inclusion into the REACH Regulation: “Textile clothing, fabric accessories and interior textile articles that can be washed in water shall not be placed on the market 60 months after entry into force of the restriction if they contain nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylate alone or in combination in concentrations equal to or higher than 100 mg/kg textile. The limit value includes prints on the textile articles covered by the proposed restriction.”

The Swedish proposal includes the following examples of articles that should be covered by the proposed restriction:  underwear, nightwear, hosiery, jackets, dresses, suits, gloves, sportswear, swimwear, scarves, shawls, ties, handkerchiefs, bags, curtains, bed linen, table linen, towels, blankets, throws, mats and rugs.

The proposal is not intended to affect articles not washable in water, such as those containing leather. Sweden expects that, in the long-term, the concentration of NPs and NPEs in textiles would decrease to roughly 29 mg/kg. Moreover, removing these toxic substances from the manufacturing process of textiles would significantly reduce NP emissions in waste water. This would subsequently result in a reduction of the negative impact on biodiversity and the ecosystems in the European Union.

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