The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) launched a six-month public consultation on the REACH Annex XVII restriction of lead and its compounds in products that can be placed in the mouth by children. This proposal is raised by Sweden to minimise children’s lead exposure levels. The consultation starts from 21 March until 21 September 2013. Anyone (whether in the EU or beyond) can comment on a restriction proposal – companies, organisations representing industry or civil society, individual citizens, as well as public authorities.
The proposed restriction is intended to target all consumer products that can be placed in the mouth by children and is aligned with the restriction of lead in jewellery (REACH Annex XVII, entry 63), which will apply from 9 October 2013. Details of the proposal are listed in Table A.
After the public consultation, final opinions of the ECHA’s committees are scheduled to be available by 21 March 2014 and comments will be submitted to the European Commission to decide whether to adopt this restriction in REACH Annex XVII.
Lead and its compounds are widely used in various types of consumer products such as clothing, shoes, accessories, stationery and jewellery. There are three major applications of lead and its compounds: metallic alloy, pigments and stabilizers in polymers. Lead alloys are widely used in metallic accessories such as buckles, buttons and key chains. Lead pigments are used for colouring of textiles and polymer materials. Lead chromate and orange lead are two examples of lead pigments that are also included in the REACH Candidate List. As a stabiliser, lead gives better durability in polymers such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Although lead is relatively cheap and versatile in a wide range of applications, exposure to products containing lead are harmful to children’s central nervous system and may present a negative impact on their IQ.