On 22 June, the European Chemical Agency’s (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment on which EuChemS sits, met in order to discuss the increasing list of topics that the EU agency is looking at. From authorisations, restrictions and decisions on harmonised classification of substances, it is clear that the agency’s role and scope of action is growing. During the meeting, the topic of microplastics took centre stage, with discussions focusing on how to properly classify microplastics, analyse health risks and on the best ways forward. It was recognised during the meeting that the literature on microplastics is growing rapidly, with many studies concerned with reporting the occurrence, concentration and characterisation (for example, the composition, morphology and properties) of microplastics in different environmental locations. Only more recently has the literature shifted to studying the hazard and risk posed by different types of microplastics to the environment and to human health. ECHA is currently preparing a dossier with a proposal to restrict intentionally added microplastics in products from which they will inevitably be released into the environment.
On 27 and 28 June, policymakers, scientists and representatives from associations and industry attended the EU conference on EU Chemicals Policy 2030, which aimed, through panel discussions and interactive thematic sessions, to lay out the central aspects of the EU’s chemical policy in the coming years. The development of REACH, the EU regulation for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals, was praised for its having become an established and comprehensive framework that is now being seriously considered by non-EU countries such as the United States. Further information on the high-level conference together with speakers’ presentations are available online here.