UK REACH substances of very high concern (SVHCs)
This explains the requirements under UK REACH for substances of very high concern (SVHCs) and how their regulation under UK REACH might impact on the chemicals in your business.
What SVHCs are
SVHCs are substances that have hazards with serious consequences. For example, they cause cancer, or they have other hazardous properties and/or remain in the environment for a long time with their amounts in animals gradually building up.
In accordance with Article 57 of UK REACH, substances with the following properties may be identified as SVHCs:
- Substances meeting the criteria for classification as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMR) category 1A or 1B in accordance with the GB CLP regulation.
- Substances which are persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT) in accordance with the criteria in Annex 13 of UK REACH.
- Substances which are very persistent and very bio-accumulative (vPvB) in accordance with the criteria in Annex 13 of UK REACH.
- Substances giving rise to an equivalent level of concern to substances meeting the above criteria. Such substances may have endocrine disrupting properties or have properties, that although not meeting the criteria for being a CMR, PBT or vPvB, there is scientific evidence of probable serious effects to human health or the environment. Such substances will be identified on a case-by-case basis
Substances meeting these criteria may be added to one or both of these lists:
The process for how this happens is outlined below.
The UK REACH 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 UK REACH.
When UK REACH came into force, all substances on the EU REACH Candidate List were carried over onto the UK REACH Candidate List.
Process for including substances on the UK REACH Candidate List
HSE, with the Environment Agency will prepare dossiers in accordance with Annex 15 of UK REACH to formally identify how substances meet the SVHCs criteria.
Information on these substances will be published on the HSE Consultations Hub and interested parties will be invited to comment within a set timeframe. If no comments are received, the substance will be included on the Candidate List. Where comments are received, these will be taken into account by HSE when making a decision regarding the inclusion of the substance in the Candidate List.
Read more about identifying SVHCs in UK REACH in our assessment of substances added to the EU candidate list in 2021.
Inclusion of a substance on the UK REACH Candidate List brings obligations for suppliers of the substance.
Duty to communicate information on substances in articles
If you supply an article (article definition) containing a substance that appears on the Candidate List in a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight (w/w) you 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 (Article 33). This applies when the article is supplied to recipients who are to use or handle it as part of their work.
You must also supply the equivalent information to consumers (the general public) if requested. You must provide this information within 45 days of receipt of the request.
Notification of substances in articles
If you produce or import supply articles containing substances that appear on the UK REACH Candidate List you may need to submit a notification to HSE.
Duty to communication information on substances in mixtures
If you supply a mixture not classified as hazardous according to GB CLP you must provide the recipients on request, with a safety data sheet if the mixture contains at least one substance on the UK REACH Candidate List, present at concentration of at least 0.1% (w/w) for non-gaseous mixtures.
Duty to communicate information on substances
If you supply a substance that appears on the UK REACH Candidate List you must provide a safety data sheet for the substance to your customers.
Probably the most critical aspect in relation to SVHCs is that some may go forward and be included on Annex 14 of UK REACH (Authorisation List). Such substances will be subject to the authorisation provisions of UK REACH. Once a substance has been listed, businesses cannot generally use that substance for the specified use beyond a sunset date that is specific for that substance, unless they are granted an authorisation.