The European Chemicals Agency Lists 38 Chemicals as Potential Substances of Very High Concern

August 24, 2012


On August 17, 2012, the European Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”) added 38 chemicals to their “registry of intentions” as proposed “substances of very high concern” (“SVHC”). The listing means that the chemicals could be subject to a ban or significant use restrictions under the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (“REACH”). REACH, which became effective on June 1, 2007, requires manufacturers and importers of substances manufactured or imported in quantities greater than 1 tonne per year per registrant to collect information on the uses and properties of those substances and register that information under REACH. By May 31, 2013, all substances manufactured or imported in quantities greater than 100 tonnes per year must be registered under REACH.

Adding a substance to the registry of intentions is one of the first actions taken by ECHA in the process of banning hazardous substances under REACH. The 38 chemicals were added to the registry of intentions because they are believed to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic. There are currently 50 chemicals listed as potential SVHC. Among those chemicals listed are di-n-pentyl phthalate, commonly used as a plasticizer; perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA), commonly used in coatings and nonstick cookware; and cadmium, commonly used in jewelry. There are currently 59 categories of restricted substances under REACH. Substances listed as restricted substances have specific restrictions on their use.

The European Commission could confirm the 38 substances’ status as SVHC by the end of August 2012. Public consultation could begin as early as early September 2012. If there are no objections during the 45-day public consultation process, the substances could be added to the “candidate list” for bans by the end of 2012. There are currently 84 substances on the candidate list.

The registry of current SVHC intentions listing the 38 proposed SVHC can be found at
For more information on REACH, please visit,, and

* * *

This memorandum is a summary for general information and discussion only and may be considered an advertisement for certain purposes. It is not a full analysis of the matters presented, may not be relied upon as legal advice, and does not purport to represent the views of our clients or the Firm. Eric Rothenberg, an O'Melveny partner licensed to practice law in New York and Missouri, Martin J. McTigue, an O'Melveny partner licensed to practice law in California, Robert Nicksin, an O'Melveny counsel licensed to practice law in California and Aleas Koos, an O'Melveny associate licensed to practice law in California, contributed to the content of this newsletter. The views expressed in this newsletter are the views of the authors except as otherwise noted.

Portions of this communication may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please direct all inquiries regarding New York's Rules of Professional Conduct to O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Times Square Tower, 7 Times Square, New York, NY, 10036, Phone:+1-212-326-2000. © 2012 O'Melveny & Myers LLP. All Rights Reserved.