Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

REACH - Substances of very high concern and restricted chemicals

REACH - Substances of very high concern

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation places controls on the supply and use of certain chemical substances on their own, in preparations or mixtures, or in articles (finished products). These controls apply to substances that can be particularly harmful to human health or the environment.

There are three groups of chemicals that are specifically controlled under REACH:

  • the candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC)
  • Annex XIV substances - priority SVHCs from the candidate list that require an authorisation for their supply and use
  • Annex XVII restricted substances - particular hazardous substances that have controls on how they can be supplied or used.

A substance can be subject to control in any or all of the groups.

What you must do

SVHC and Annex XIV substance controls

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has produced a candidate list of possible SVHCs and a recommended list of substances to be included in Annex XIV.

ECHA: List of SVHCs

ECHA: Annex XIV recommendations

If you deal with candidate SVHCs or Annex XIV substances your REACH obligations apply to any quantity or weight.

If you supply an article containing a substance on the SVHC candidate list at a concentration of 0.1 per cent or more you must give information to professional recipients on the substance and how to use it safely. If anyone requests information on the SVHC content of an article, you must provide it to them within 45 days and free of charge.

If you supply a substance on its own or in a preparation or mixture you must provide professional users with a safety data sheet if the substance is classified as hazardous.

Depending on which substance and the amount you supply, you may also need to:

  • submit a notification to ECHA
  • get an authorisation for specific uses for that substance if it appears in Annex XIV.

HSE: REACH – Substances of very high concern

Annex XVII substance restrictions

Annex XVII of REACH lists restricted chemicals with details of their restrictions and concentration limits. These chemicals are restricted to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

Restrictions may be applied to any substance, including those that do not require registration. Restrictions apply to Annex XVII substances regardless of what quantity or weight of the chemical your business deals with.

If a chemical is listed in Annex XVII, and you supply or use it on its own, in preparations or mixtures, or in articles, you must make sure that you comply with the conditions of the restriction.

If a chemical is listed in Annex XVII you must not:

  • supply or use the chemical for the restrictions outlined
  • allow or cause anyone else to break a restriction outlined.

A restriction may limit the concentration of a chemical for a particular use, or ban a use entirely.

Restricted chemicals include:

  • lead carbonates
  • lead sulphates
  • benzene
  • pentachlorophenol
  • nonylphenol and its ethoxylates
  • cadmium
  • hexachloroethane
  • creosote
  • compounds containing mercury and arsenic.

Annex XVII of REACH is subject to change. You should check it regularly to keep up to date with restrictions on the chemicals you are involved with.

To find Annex XVII, search the European law database using the terms 'REACH' with 'Annex XVII' in the simple search window (text search).

EUROPA: European law database

If you want to start using alternative chemicals you should check to make sure that they are not also likely to become restricted.

If you need to check any chemical and the restrictions on it, you should contact the UK competent authority at the HSE to find out which regulator you need to speak to. You can email the REACH Helpdesk at UKREACHCA@hse.gsi.gov.uk.

Further information

HSE: REACH guidance

ECHA: REACH guidance

HSE: REACH - Contact us

HSE: REACH – Substances of very high concern

ECHA: List of SVHCs

ECHA: Annex XIV recommendations

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