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All you need to know about SVHCs

When it comes to purchasing chemical consumables within the United Kingdom and European Union, it is important to be aware of SVHCs, and the impact they can have on your supply chain.

What is an SVHC?

Substances that may have serious effects on human health and the environment can be identified as substances of very high concern (SVHCs). These are primarily substances which are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to reproduction as well as substances with persistent and bio-accumulative characteristics. Other substances of equivalent concern include, for example, endocrine disrupting chemicals.

How do I identify an SVHC?

After a substance has been officially identified as being of very high concern, it will be added to the Candidate List. This list indicates to consumers and industry which chemicals are identified as SVHC.

What is the Candidate List?

The Candidate List is a list of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) that may be prioritised for inclusion on the Authorisation List (Annex 14) of REACH.

When UK REACH came into force, all substances that were on the EU REACH candidate list were carried over onto the UK REACH candidate list. The UK REACH work programme for 2021-22 committed to assess those substances that have been added to the EU REACH candidate list since UK REACH came into force, to consider if it was appropriate to add them to the UK REACH candidate list.

The UK and EU candidate lists operate independently from each other.

What is the Authorisation List?

The Authorisation list (Annex 14) contains a list of substances subject to authorisation under REACH.

Under Article 58(3) of UK REACH, HSE is required to recommend priority substances for inclusion in the UK REACH Authorisation List (Annex 14) from the UK candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC’s). Following HSE’s recommendation, the appropriate authorities ((Defra) Secretary of State and the Scottish and Welsh Ministers) will decide whether to include those priority substances in the list of substances subject to authorisation (Annex 14 of UK REACH).

Substances that have been identified as SVHCs and included in the UK Authorisation List (Annex 14) cannot be used or placed on the market for a use after a specified date, known as the sunset date, unless the use has been authorised or is exempt from authorisation.

The UK and EU authorisation lists operate independently from each other.

What is a Sunset Date?

The sunset date is the date after which the placing on the market and the use of a substance is prohibited unless an authorisation is granted to the user.

Companies who wish to continue to place on the market and/or use substances after their sunset date are required to prepare an application for authorisation for their specific use(s) of the substance and submit it to HSE.

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How do I know if a product contains an SVHC?

If a substance is supplied on its own or in a mixture and is included in the Candidate List for Authorisation according to REACH, it will be disclosed in section 3 of a safety data sheet.

Suppliers of articles containing a substance that appears on the UK Candidate List in a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight (w/w) must provide the recipient of the article with sufficient information, available to you, to allow safe use of the article including, as a minimum, the name of the substance.

Does this regulation apply to everyone?

UK REACH is a regulation that applies to the majority of chemical substances that are manufactured in or imported into Great Britain (GB) (England, Scotland, Wales).

Under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the EU REACH Regulation was brought into UK law on 1 January 2021 and is known as UK REACH.

REACH, and related legislation, were replicated in the UK with the changes needed to make it operable in a domestic context. The key principles of the EU REACH Regulation were retained in UK REACH.

The UK REACH and the EU REACH regulations operate independently from each other.

UK REACH regulates chemicals placed on the market in GB.

Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU REACH continues to apply in Northern Ireland.

What happens if I want to purchase a product that has been granted authorisation for as specific use?

If you want to purchase an authorised product that contains an SVHC included on the Authorisation List, you are still able to do so. However, you will be asked to confirm your understanding of the following:

  • Authorised application(s) and limitations of use for the products being purchased
  • Registration of the use or application of these products with HSE/ECHA
  • Flow down of these requirements to all downstream users and re-sellers of the products where applicable
Ordering products that contain svhc online