Plasticizers are repeatedly cited as being hazardous to people's health. They're to be found in plastics and can find their way into the human body simply through contact. Companies that use plasticizers and other chemical Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) in their manufacturing processes are obliged to inform their customers of this fact. This is stipulated by the REACH Regulation laid down by the European Union. A software app developed by iPoint-systems and DEKRA now aims to help companies meet their obligations as efficiently as possible.
Around 170 substances of concern to people and the environment are currently listed in the EU's REACH Regulation. They can be found in plastic parts of children's toys, metal parts, or textiles. If a manufacturer makes use of materials covered by this Regulation, they have to inform their customers about these hazardous substances. The new Product Chem Risk app from iPoint and DEKRA aims to reduce the amount of work involved for manufacturers. Until now, they've had to conduct extensive lab analyses for each of their products or rely on asking their suppliers for the relevant data. While it's quick and easy to inquire with suppliers, the information they provide is often far from reliable. Thanks to this app, manufacturers are now in a position to identify all potentially harmful substances in materials quickly and simply, so that they can fulfill their REACH obligations efficiently and reliably.
Systematic narrowing-down thanks to innovative screening process
The software offers a screening process that can considerably reduce the amount of work involved in analyzing a candidate substance. Those candidate materials categorized as SVHCs are subject to the REACH Regulation. Among these are, for example, the phthalate plasticizer DEHP, which is used in PVC and therefore in many everyday items. When conducting a risk assessment of their products, manufacturers can use the Product Chem Risk app to access a comprehensive database. Around 150 materials are listed in this database in which the candidate materials are typically present. The materials listed have been analyzed and tested by DEKRA, who first launched the database back in 2009 and have continued to upgrade and update it ever since.
The app enables manufacturers to narrow down which of their products need to be checked with regard to candidate substances. Instead of conducting an extensive, full-scale analysis of all the components or materials, they are immediately directed to and shown the candidate substances that are to be expected based on the materials they use. For instance, if a manufacturer uses an elastomer in the production of a product, the system provides them with reliable data as to whether the substance in question contains relevant plasticizers and is subject to REACH. Depending on the probability of their presence, the materials and candidate substances are color-coded from dark red (very frequent) to yellow (rare). The list also includes materials in which candidate substances so far haven't been detected. This enables the manufacturer to exclude them from further checks and to focus on the remaining substances that are of interest to risk-based assessment. DEKRA and iPoint have spent around 6 months working to get this tool to function perfectly.
Product Chem Risk app useful link in value creation chain
In addition to the benefits the tool brings with regard to REACH compliance, it can also be put to good use in product design, for example. Specific materials that contain candidate substances can be avoided from the get-go when designing new products. This can be crucial for component manufacturers, for instance. The software also helps when choosing components and articles to buy in. If a manufacturer has to rely on statements provided by suppliers, the app can be used to verify the plausibility of this information. If they are in any doubt, the manufacturer can then decide in favor of a small number of suppliers who describe and label their goods best, improving the quality of the manufacturer's supplier management system in the process.
The Product Chem Risk app can be tested for free on iPoint's SustainHub platform.