In December 2012 a further 54 substances were added to the Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) list, as Europe seeks to further tighten control on substances manufactured or contained within articles.


This takes the total number of materials in the SVHC list to 138. A quick tally of the new inclusions shows 32 are substances with known toxicity for reproduction, 12 are suspected carcinogens, and 5 are either very persistent /very bio-accumulative or of equivalent level of concern for probable serious effects on humans.


As has often been seen in the past, very few of these new SVHC materials are connected specifically with leather manufacture. One exception on this occasion is 4-nonylphenol with branched/linear alkyl chain. Leather production in Europe is suspected to generate up to 20kg of this material in waste discharges per day. Most tanners and fellmongers in NZ abandoned this chemistry some years ago.


C11-13 PFCA’s join other fluorinated organic acids such as PFOA as recognised persistent toxins in the environment. They have found application as wetting agents, intermediate and in fire-fighting foam in the past, but are very limited in application. The product is not registered in Europe, and alternative wetting agents exist with shorter carbon chains and reduced persistence e.g. Lutensit range (BASF).


Bis(pentabromophenyl) ether (decabromodiphenyl ether; DecaBDE) is a flame retardant used in plastic insulation for cables and has also been found in coatings for textiles and some leathers. LASRA® have developed a flame-resistance treatment based on inorganic materials which avoids the need for the use of brominated flame-retardants completely – contact us for more information.


An oxazolidine, known commercially as Zoldine MS-Plus is another material of interest in the new list. It has applications in plastic manufacturing, paints and adhesives. Some chemical similarity to the well-known pretanning agents, we’ll be keeping a close eye on further developments in the oxazolidine family of chemicals.


Some useful REACH links




User guide to SVHC substances in articles