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ECHA Proposes to Restrict Intentionally Added Microplastics

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced on January 30, 2019, that it has submitted a restriction proposal for microplastic particles that are intentionally added to mixtures used by consumers or professionals. According to ECHA, if adopted, the restriction could reduce the amount of microplastics released to the environment in the European Union (EU) “by about 400thousand tonnes over 20 years.”  ECHA states that its assessment found that intentionally added microplastics are most likely to accumulate in terrestrial environments, as the particles concentrate in sewage sludge that is frequently applied as fertilizer.  A much smaller proportion of these microplastics is released directly to the aquatic environment.  Once released, they can be extremely persistent in the environment and practically impossible to remove.  ECHA states:  “Due to their small size, microplastics and nanoplastics — even smaller particles that are created from the further degradation of microplastics — may be readily ingested and thereby enter the food chain.”

ECHA’s proposed restriction targets intentionally added microplastics in products from which they will inevitably be released to the environment. The proposed restriction would cover small, typically microscopic, synthetic polymer particles that resist (bio)degradation. The scope would cover a wide range of uses in consumer and professional products in multiple sectors, including cosmetic products, detergents and maintenance products, paints and coatings, construction materials, and medicinal products, as well as various products used in agriculture and horticulture and in the oil and gas sectors.

©2019 Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

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About this Author

Lynn Bergeson, Campbell PC, Toxic Substances Control Act Attorney, federal insecticide lawyer, industrial biotechnology legal counsel, Food Drug Administration law
Managing Partner

Owner of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), Lynn L. Bergeson has earned an international reputation for her deep and expansive understanding of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), European Union Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), and especially how these regulatory programs pertain to nanotechnology, industrial biotechnology, synthetic biology, and other emerging transformative technologies. Her knowledge of and involvement in the policy...

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Carla Hutton, Bergeson Campbell PC, global regulatory attorney, public health activists lawyer, metals industry legal counsel, Toxic Substances Control Act law
Regulatory Analyst

Since 1996, Carla Hutton has monitored, researched, and written about regulatory and legislative issues that may potentially affect Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) clients. She is responsible for creating a number of monthly and quarterly regulatory updates for B&C's clients, as well as other documents, such as chemical-specific global assessments of regulatory developments and trends. She authors memoranda for B&C clients on regulatory and legislative developments, providing information that is focused, timely and applicable to client initiatives. These tasks have proven invaluable to many clients, keeping them aware and abreast of developing issues so that they can respond in kind and prepare for the future of their business.

Ms. Hutton brings a wealth of experience and judgment to her work in federal, state, and international chemical regulatory and legislative issues, including green chemistry, nanotechnology, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Proposition 65, and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program.

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