On May 8, 2023, European Commission announced in the official journal to amend Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (REACH Regulation), seeking to restrict the placing on the market or use of lead and its compounds in polymers or copolymers of vinyl chloride (PVC). The Amendment is set to enter into force on May 28, 2023.
Lead is a toxic substance which affects the development of the nervous system, produces chronic kidney disease and has adverse effects on blood pressure. According to a study in 2016 by European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the release of lead from PVC articles containing lead stabilizers, during their life-cycle, contributes directly and indirectly to human exposure to lead. In light of the potential risks, it is appropriate to restrict any lead present in PVC regardless of its intended function.
As per the Amendment, if the concentration of lead is equal to or greater than 0.1% by weight of the PVC material, it shall not be placed on the market or used in PVC articles. This prohibition comes into force on November 29, 2024.
To boost the circular economy and encourage companies to use recovered materials, grace periods for certain types of recovered PVC are specified as follows:
1. PVC articles containing recovered flexible PVC, until May 28, 2025;
2. The following PVC articles containing recovered rigid PVC, until May 28, 2033, if the concentration of lead is lower than 1.5 % by weight of the recovered rigid PVC:
Profiles and sheets for exterior applications in buildings and civil engineering works, excluding decks and terraces;
Profiles and sheets for decks and terraces, provided that the recovered PVC is used in a middle layer and is entirely covered with a layer of PVC or other material for which the concentration of lead is lower than 0.1 % by weight;
Profiles and sheets for use in concealed spaces or voids in buildings and civil engineering works (where they are inaccessible during normal use, excluding maintenance, for example, cable ducts);
Profiles and sheets for interior building applications, provided that the entire surface of the profile or sheet facing the occupied areas of a building after installation is produced using PVC or other material for which the concentration of lead is lower than 0.1 % by weight;
Multi-layer pipes (excluding pipes for drinking water), provided that the recovered PVC is used in a middle layer and is entirely covered with a layer of PVC or other material for which the concentration of lead is lower than 0.1 % by weight;
Fittings, excluding fittings for pipes for drinking water.
The Amendment can be accessed here.