REACh Regulations - Products with lead content
For those not familiar with REACh it stands for “Regulation, Evaluation & Authorisation of Chemicals” and is the mechanism by which the EU controls the use of substances particularly those which are proven to be potentially hazardous to health.
The list of substances being evaluated under REACh is growing rapidly. When a substance is to be assessed it is first added to the so called “Candidate List”. Although this is a very long way from actually being confirmed as a substance of very high concern, the simple inclusion on the candidate list does bring with it some legal obligations for users of that substance including the requirement for manufacturers of products containing the substance to notify its customers of its presence in the product.
A case in point is lead which was added to the candidate list in early 2013. Although historically PVC pipes contained a small amount of lead, most manufacturers have already replaced it in recent years with alternative materials. The issue comes when manufacturing products which contain recycled content particularly material recovered from end of life products often manufactured many years ago.
The European plastic pipes and fittings industry is fully committed to the environmental and ecological benefits of including recycled material where appropriate in their products. This does not represent a compromise in performance levels, compliance with relevant standards or life expectancy.
Under the REACH regulations manufacturers are now required to advise that these products may contain more than 0.1% of lead based stabilizers. It should be noted that this does not represent any health risk as the lead compounds are encapsulated in the polymer matrix and under normal conditions are not released during the service life of the product or when the product is subsequently recycled again.