Deutsche Bauchemie supports the Green Deal goals as well as the transition towards a more sustainable society. Construction chemical products are decisive: Modern concrete admixtures reduce the amount of cement used in concrete and thus contribute to the reduction of CO2-emissions. Sealants ensure the airtightness of buildings and help save energy. Concrete repair systems contribute to the extension of the service life of buildings and structures.
The construction chemicals industry is highly regulated in the EU. To ensure that the sector can actively contribute to the Green Deal, the planned changes of the legal framework should be proportionate, targeted, and only made if they are essential to achieve the objectives. The competitiveness of the European economy and European jobs must be kept in mind.
Because of sector-specific concerns, the construction chemicals industry provides comments on the following proposed amendments to the REACH regulation:
Expansion of the "generic approach to risk management"
The application of the “generic approach to risk management” has so far been restricted to CMR substances in private consumer products (Article 68 (2)). In these areas, the Commission can apply a simplified procedure to prohibit the use of substances due to their intrinsic properties (CMR) without a use-related risk assessment.
To identify the risk management measures that might be required for the safe use of construction chemical products, a specific risk assessment cannot be replaced by the generic approach. Therefore, the exception to the application of the risk-based approach should not be extended to substances of other hazard classes (ED, PBT, vPvB).
Deutsche Bauchemie is particularly critical of the discussed expansion of the “generic approach to risk management” to products for professional uses. The professional use of chemical products by trained workers using specified risk management measures such as personal protective equipment cannot be equated with the use by private end-users. A specific risk assessment is required instead of the generic approach. Otherwise, the professional user would only have products available that are currently intended for do-it-yourself uses by private consumers. The consequence of this would be that the state of the art in terms of the products used, could not be maintained in many areas. Additionally, highly qualified craft and master trades could no longer distinguish themselves from the unskilled workers in their range of services.
Concept of "essential uses"
The application of the concept of “essential uses” poses the great risk that decisions are made for all of Europe in a centralised regulatory process and that regional, cultural, economic and social factors are not adequately considered. Excluding products from the European single market based on such a non-objective decision appears inappropriate and should be reconsidered. In addition, it seems questionable whether a concept originally developed only for the use of greenhouse gases is suitable to be transferred to chemicals legislation and to multi-level value chains.
Introduction of a Mixture Assessment Factor (MAF)
When deriving exposure limits under REACH (PNEC, DNEL), several conservative default assessment factors are already used and all of them contain a safety margin. Their multiplication leads to an overall factor that contains a considerable safety margin that would also cover possible additive combination effects. The additional application of a mixture assessment factor (MAF) would lead to a further lowering of the already quite low, conservatively derived exposure limits. For professional uses such a lowered DNELs could often not be complied with. The documented occurrence of occupational diseases does not indicate that the exposure of professional workers is too high. Therefore, the use of an additional MAF is not justified.
Registration requirements for certain polymers
In the construction chemicals industry, it is common practice to manufacture polymers according to customer requirements or to modify them for specific applications. New polymers are created that could become subject to the upcoming registration obligation for certain polymers. The number of polymers produced this way is quite high; the volume of the individual polymers is rather small. Therefore, the data requirements should be tiered according to tonnage bands. In addition, pragmatic grouping rules should be established to ensure the required practicability. This is the only way for construction chemicals companies (often SMEs) that have so far mainly acted as downstream users under REACH, to meet their new obligations as polymer registrants.
Deutsche Bauchemie e.V.
Frankfurt, 17. Mai 2021