Category Archives: Written Questions

Biocide Directive and Strychnine

Strychnine (strychnine hydrochloride) has been used as a cost effective and humane way of controlling the mole population in the UK for many years before being banned under the Biocide Directive (91/414/EEC, 98/8/EC) in 2006. Now moles are being controlled using aluminium phosphide, which is more expensive, causes a long painful death and can also kill other animals accidentally. Therefore, what was the Commission’s reason for the unnecessary ban of strychnine in the first place?

Answer given by Mr Potočnik
on behalf of the Commission

The Biocides Directive 98/8/EC provides for the systematic examination during a 10-year review programme of the active substances contained in biocidal products that were on the market before 14 May 2000 (the so-called ‘existing’ active substances). Use of strychnine to control moles is indeed falling into the scope of this Biocides Directive 98/8/EC. For this purpose, the biocides industry had to identify all the active substances they were using in their products and if they wished to continue using them, they had to notify their intention to submit full data for their evaluation.

The existing active substances that were only identified, i.e. not defended with data by the industry, were given a phase-out period (1 September 2006), after which they could no longer be used for biocidal purposes. Such was the case of strychnine hydrochloride and explains why the use of strychnine hydrochloride was forbidden after 2006.

To modify this legal constraints and to place strychnine hydrochloride on the market for the control of moles again, the required information for its evaluation should be submitted in accordance with Article 11 of the Biocides Directive.

Chromium in Paint Restrictions

Question: Given that the European Union does not tolerate the use of chromium and cadmium in electrical appliances (see Directive 2002/95/EC(1)), can the Commission explain what restrictions are in place with regard to the use of chromium in paint?

Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

Directive 2002/95/EC restricts the use of cadmium in electrical and electronic equipment falling under its scope. However, the directive does not restrict the use of chromium as such. Instead, the directive restricts a particular chemical form of chromium, namely, hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium VI. The directive therefore restricts a large group of compounds containing hexavalent chromium, all of which are highly oxidizing, and which are classified as carcinogens. Those restrictions apply to new equipment placed on the market since 2006. Similarly, Directive 2000/53/EC(1), as amended, restricts the use of hexavalent chromium in new vehicles placed on the market after 2003, and Directive 94/62/EC(2) restricts the use of hexavalent chromium in packaging

The use of carcinogens by workers is regulated by Directive 90/394/EC(3) under which manufacturers are obliged to use non-carcinogenic substitutes wherever possible, or to provide adequate protective equipment in cases where substitution is not possible.

The placing on the market of carcinogens for supply to the general public is regulated by Annex XVII of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006(4) (the REACH Regulation). Entry 28 of Annex XVII (as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No 552/2009(5)) bans the placing on the market and use of carcinogenic substances as substances, as constituents of other substances or in mixtures (e.g. paints) for supply to the general public. The supply of paints containing hexavalent chromium to the general public is therefore banned.

The use of paints containing hexavalent chromium in the European Union is therefore restricted to those industrial uses where substitution is not possible. They were used in the past to provide corrosion protection as primers before application of the final decorative coat of paint, for example on motor vehicles, refrigerators, etc. However, due to the restrictions mentioned above, very few, if any, goods manufactured in the EU for supply to the general public contain such paint. However, apart from those articles that would fall within the scope of Directives 2002/95/EC, 2000/53/EC or 94/62/EC, there are no restrictions on the import, placing on the market or use of articles treated with paints containing hexavalent chromium compounds.

(1) OJ L 269, 21.10.2000.
(2) OJ L 365, 31.12.1994.
(3) OJ L 196, 26.7.1990.
(4) OJ L 396, 30.12.2006.
(5) OJ L 164, 22.06.2009.