19 januari 2018
European Commissioner Vella announces review of procedures for the assessment of new substances
European Commissioner Karmenu Vella has responded to written questions submitted by Dutch MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik regarding emissions of perfluorooctanoic acid and GenX. Mrs Schreijer-Pierik is concerned about the circumstances surrounding such emissions and has called for clearer regulations and greater transparency. Drinking water companies continue to detect substances close to their intake points, the nature, properties and source of which are difficult to ascertain. They must then determine what, if any, risks these substances present and whether they can be removed from water by further purification. That was the case with GenX and pyrazole. On occasion, water companies have been forced to suspend production, as was the case with pyrazole.
What the European Commission is doing to reduce the use of GenX
As yet, the European REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) does not include any specific quality standards for drinking water. In the interests of source protection, such standards are necessary. Annie Schreijer-Pierik therefore asked whether the Commission is willing to examine how the prevention of negative effects of emissions can be improved.
Vewin welcomes Mr Vella's announcement that the Commission intends to extend the REACH system to include the evaluation and/or restriction of certain perfluorinated alkylated compounds, including GenX. Vewin will continue to press for other new ('emergent') chemical substances to be included in the safety criteria for drinking water.
Evaluation of the Framework Water Directive
Mr Vella has also stated that the forthcoming evaluation of the Framework Water Directive will include an examination of whether it, and the accompanying legislation, can be used to ensure an adequate approach to reducing chemical contamination, including that by emerging substances such as GenX. Vewin regards this as extremely important and therefore welcomes inclusion of this matter in the evaluation of the Framework Water Directive.
Lastly, Mr Vella refers to a number of ongoing projects in which the Commission is involved. They include a study commissioned by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) into how the safe use of persistent and mobile chemicals can be ensured using relevant legislation such as REACH.
A summary of Annie Schreijer-Pierik's questions can be found here (in Dutch).
Vewin's position on emergent substances can be found here (in Dutch).