The EU REACH Regulation 1907/2006 creates a regime for the control of chemicals with a wide scope. We have described much on this subject in previous bulletins. There is particular focus on hexavalent chromates for the aerospace industry in 2019. These substances are extremely effective corrosion inhibitors and have assured the structural integrity of generations of aircraft. However, exposure to them is harmful to health and they have been classified under REACH as SVHCs (Substances of Very High Concern). Restricted SVHCs are listed in Annex 14 of REACH and can be viewed via the following link: https://echa.europa.eu/authorisation-list
The first sunset date (date from which they cannot be used without authorisation) for chromates contained in paints has now been passed (22/01/2019). Pexa is implementing concrete actions to ensure our compliance with REACH and to safeguard our customers, ensuring that we only supply REACH compliant products.
Although the “sunset date” has passed for these chromates, at the moment ECHA has not published the authorisations; substances with Application for Authorisation (AfA) are considered to be authorised pending the final decision. This is with the REACH committee of the European Commission and a publication date is awaited. We are working on the basis that an extension period will be approved, based on the 7 years (from the sunset date) in the applications and that will mean another review in 2026. However, until the authorisation is published, this is not guaranteed and there is a risk either of no authorisation or a shorter review period, (as has been the case for the recent authorisation of chromium trioxide for the CTAC consortium, which has a 4 year review from the date of publication rather than the sunset date for certain applications). As the sunset date has passed, it is now required to act as if the pending authorisation has been granted and therefore Applications for Authorisation “AfA” are to be considered as if they were authorisations. Pexa is therefore only supplying products which are either subject to an AfA or an authorisation if published.
We are in the process of adding the AfA reference number to our product descriptions for applicable products which will appear on our delivery paperwork and CofC so that compliance is certified. AfAs are made through one of the consortia which has made applications on behalf of suppliers. The two main consortia for coatings applications are CCST and GCCA. Pexa’s protocol for declaring the AfA is to first use the CCST AfA if there is one and, if not, we will use the GCCA or individual applicant AfA (some products have a single applicant where the use is for a specific product application). We will state the applicable AfA reference for the use of the products by our customers in preference to the AfA reference for the production of the products. We will use the AfA reference closest to the producer of the substance or product.
Please see examples below:
|strontium chromate||7789-06-2||CCST 0046-02||Aerowave 2001, 37092, 10-P4-2NF, 10-P20-13, plus many others|
|potassium hydroxyoctaoxodizincatedichromate||11103-86-9||CCST 0047-02||PR30BZP|
|pentazinc chromate octahydroxide||49663-84-5||CCST 0118-02||454-4-1, 463-6-4, 364-1-6, 03174YVP|
Further details can be found here: https://echa.europa.eu/applications-for-authorisation-previous-consultations
These AfAs/authorisations are for use on aerospace projects only, there is no authorisation for non-aerospace applications and only products free of hexavalent chromates may be used on ground based equipment. Pexa has a number of technical options for this and we are available to discuss those with our customers.
When the authorisation is published there will be a new phase of registrations, as product users will need to register with the relevant authority in their country as a product user. At that stage we expect additional control measures to be required including health surveillance and increased PPE, these will be based on the “exposure scenarios” outlined in the authorisation (see reference to Best Practice Sheets later in this bulletin). Therefore, our recommendation is, wherever possible, to switch to a chromate free alternative which will avoid this additional activity. Pexa has a wide range of industry leading product solutions in this area and it is possible in many situations to eliminate the chromates and therefore the control measures.
After publication of the authorisation Pexa will have to keep a record of which parties have purchased the authorised products and we may be required to obtain written confirmation from our customers that their product usage is within the scope of the authorisation. At that point the actual text of the scope will become important. For CCST products containing strontium chromate that is currently “Application of paints, primers and specialty coatings containing Strontium Chromate in the construction of aerospace and aeronautical parts, including aeroplanes / helicopters, spacecraft, satellites, launchers, engines, and for the maintenance of such constructions”. The authorisation numbers will be stated on labels and SDS when available.
Downstream users will need to notify ECHA (or their national equivalent regulator) of their use of any of the authorised SVHCs within the 3 months of their first use of the product after the authorisation is granted. At that stage Pexa will notify all of its customers of their use of the product and signpost the route for them to make the notification.
ECHA notifications are to be done via the following link after the authorisation has been published:
Further information on notifications if available via: https://newsletter.echa.europa.eu/home/-/newsletter/entry/4_15_downstream-users-notify-echa-if-you-use-an-authorised-substance
ECHA recommends the below actions with immediate effect:
• Define programs in your facilities to monitor exposure by inhalation, waste water and exhaust ventilation emissions.
• Keep bystanders away from the spraying process, ideally by spraying in a purpose-designed room.
• Prescribe full face masks for applicators and perform periodic checks on safety gear and risk management measure for applicators.
• Comply with any reports on measurement and monitoring that become available from national enforcement authorities and subsequent authorisation submissions.
• Ensure that uses other than for the aerospace industry are excluded.
We have been obliged to delete a number of products from our range as they are not compliant with the proposed authorisation. In all cases we have a variety of solutions with technical case notes to support their use as alternatives.
In a small number of cases we have identified chromates (for example Zinc Chromate CAS 13530-65-9) which are hexavalent and carcinogenic but which are not specifically listed in Annex 14.
These could be considered as unregistered substances and Pexa would be permitted to import <1000Kg/ann into the EU. However, the UK HSE has advised Pexa that where such substances are “recognisably the same” as the SVHC then they should be treated as if they are actually the equivalent SVHC in Annex 14. Pexa intends to act in this way and therefore some speciality products will be deleted from our range. Although our customers may be able to find suppliers willing to deliver such substances we would recommend that they exercise caution to avoid a breach of the regulations.
Lead chromate with a similar risk status was also subject to authorisation and an AfA was made and the authorisation granted. However a case was successfully brought by various NGOs (7/3/19) to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to have the authorisation declared illegal. The applicant may appeal but for the moment it seems that lead chromate is effectively not authorised. This case implies that even when an authorisation has been granted it can later be reverses. We expect the commission to exercise increased caution therefore in the granting of future authorisations.
Chromium Trioxide (Chromic Acid) has been similarly affected. A consortium “CTAC” applied for authorisation for its continued use in a variety of processes. That authorisation has been published as a draft only, but not officially released. The draft states that for aerospace uses the authorisation would be for 7 years from the sunset date i.e. 2024. Users of strontium and zinc chromate can look at the text of that authorisation and its supplementary documents for an impression of the requirements which will be likely for these authorisations. However, linked to the lead chromate case above, the Environment Committee of the European Union has passed a motion to the European Parliament plenary to reject the CTAC authorisation. That could have a serious effect on the aerospace industry, particularly for anodising and conversion processes. The Commission will now reconsider the authorisation dossier and will be minded not to repeat the situation with lead chromate. This could mean changes to the authorisation or the scope. A number (approx. 14) of new Chromium Trioxide specific applications have been made following this in order to underpin continued use. The draft authorisation is not issued in statute and the authorisation numbers are not issued as of today and therefore the AfA numbers are still valid.
Pexa is studying this situation in case there are any issues arising with the CCST AfAs which would affect our coatings. We have partnered with Socomore to offer a range of hexavalent chromium free, aerospace approved metal treatments including Socogel and Socosurf TCS/PACS.
Good practice sheets for using Chromium Trioxide in accordance with the AfA can be found here http://www.jonesdayreach.com/SitePages/Home.aspx
REACH Article 33
This part of REACH stipulates that if “articles” – i.e. aerospace components or structures have >0.1% w/w of an SVHC in their composition then the customer for the article must be supplied with documentation for the safe use of the article. Based on weighing pre and post-painting or by knowing the weight and surface area of the product, Pexa can help customers to calculate this figure for any affected articles. Our AkzoNobel Aerowave 2001 primer has an extremely low chromate content which makes it feasible to finish components while staying below the 0.1% w/w level. We have determined the weight/surface area ratios of a wide variety of aerospace components which make this calculation easier to do for different coating thicknesses.
In the event of a no deal Brexit or if any deal does not cover this issue, the UK government has prepared a statutory instrument to bring REACH into UK law, “UK REACH”, after Brexit. The UK regulators are DEFRA and the HSE and they are building the REACH IT system to manage registrations and authorisations. The intent is to mirror legally binding REACH requirements in every way and all compliances hitherto valid under REACH will be valid under UK law as long as the registrations and authorisations are complete before the Brexit date.
Problems could arise if the UK leaves the EU without a deal including REACH and especially if that were to happen before authorisations are published, as AfAs are not legally binding and will not be considered extant after the leaving date. The sunset date would be valid as it will be UK statute, but the AfAs would not be valid as they are not. In this case then possibly new AfAs for UK REACH would be started (if viable). Potentially AfAs that have already reached the commission can be adopted at the discretion of the UK Secretary of State; which to Pexa would seem to be an appropriate action.
If there is a deal which includes that the UK remains within ECHA then REACH will apply, (this is part of the “Chequers deal”) which has not passed through the UK Parliament.
Pexa intends to be 100% compliant with REACH and to safeguard our customers against non- compliance as follows
1) We will carry out surveillance on our products for the presence of Annex 14 SVHCs.
2) In case SVHCs are present we will ensure that they are acquired from authorised suppliers with a valid AfA/authorisation and are used for authorised applications as per the scope of the application.
3) In case an affected product cannot be provided from the specified supplier we will propose an equivalent and offer a technical case for the use of the alternative
4) We will notify our customers at the earliest possible moment of the non-availability of a product due to REACH and offer every assistance in identifying and qualifying an alternative
5) We are gradually adding the REACH AfA/authorisation numbers to our product descriptions so that they show on our CofCs. When authorisations ae granted we will update to the authorisation numbers
6) When authorisations are published we will inform affected customers and signpost them to the actions they need to take to comply with the regulations.
© Pexa Ltd. 11th May 2019