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- Best practice from Hungary: Learning chemical safety through play
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- Biocidal Products Committee Working Groups start their journey
- ECHA's role under the PIC Regulation
- Generating safe use information for mixtures – status and next steps
- Applications for authorisation on the increase
- From an info card to detailed source data - ECHA's plans for chemicals communication
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- ECHA Science: Understanding the importance of assessment factors in finding safe human exposure levels
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Article related to: News from ECHA
From an info card to detailed source data - ECHA's plans for chemicals communication
On its website, ECHA has published over 98% of the information on chemicals submitted to it through REACH registrations, CLP notifications or biocides applications. The next step is to improve the user-friendliness and accessibility of this information. The aim is to have a new interface that also serves the needs of the general public ready in 2015.
Since 2009, when the registered substances database was initially launched, the Agency has been focused on getting information on chemicals published as required by the legislation. This was followed by investing in improving the database, for example with an advanced search, by including an opportunity to search by non-confidential uses (such as the product category or sector of use). Now, the work is shifting towards making the information simpler and more accessible for non-scientific users.
To kick off the development work, the Agency consulted its stakeholders to better understand their needs and interests as well as to investigate ways to improve the readability and user-friendliness of the information. The consultation included an online survey of all website users and in-depth interviews with accredited stakeholder organisations from industry associations, Member States, NGOs and academia.
One of the main findings of the consultation was that all the information on individual substances should be brought together in one place and that it should be displayed in a very simple and brief summary format.
Tiered approach on substances
As there is a lot of information and it is often very technical, the Agency has come up with a three-layer tiered approach to improving the presentation – starting from very simple information and ending up with a full set of data.
The aim is to show summarised tiers of information, with each tailored for different audiences with different levels of expertise. The first level is an info card, which will provide basic information on the chemical which anyone can understand and use.
The info card will include:
- Information on the hazards of the substance;
- The most relevant concerns;
- The most common uses; and
- The regulatory processes dealing with the substance, for example, whether it needs authorisation for a particular use or if it is restricted.
The second level is a brief profile of the chemical. It will include:
- Information already in the info card with further details; and
- Information on the environmental, human health and physico-chemical properties of the substance.
The third level is the source data, meaning for example information from:
- Registration dossiers;
- C&L notifications;
- Substance evaluation (Community rolling action plan);
- Authorisation List;
- Restriction List;
- Approved active substances under the BPR; and
- Annex I of PIC (list of chemicals subject to an export notification).
The aim of this tiered approach is to further improve the transparency and traceability of the data. The Agency will not be reducing the amount of information or adding new data, but changing the way the data is displayed and accessed.
Workshop on brief profiles with stakeholders
The info card and brief profile are the key tiers for general users. To reach the ambition of improving the usability of information on chemicals, the Agency held a workshop with its stakeholders on 3 December 2013. It shared the preliminary drafts of the brief profiles with 15 stakeholder representatives to get their feedback.
"We wanted to engage our stakeholders in this development early on to be able to take their views and requirements into account. After all, the technical and IT work enabling this revamp will take a lot of work, and we want to make sure that we get it right," says Mike Rasenberg ECHA's Head of Unit for Computational Assessment and Dissemination.
ECHA will continue to collaborate with its stakeholders in 2014. "We will share and discuss with them the specificities of the brief profiles and how they will be built. The stakeholders will have a chance to comment, for example, on how ECHA is aggregating the data to be displayed," Mr Rasenberg points out.
The workshop presentations and proceedings will be published on ECHA's website shortly.
Infograph. Tiered approach to chemicals communication.
Did you know?
As of 24 January, information on 12 276 substances from 47 097 registration dossiers is available on ECHA's website.
A registration dossier may contain up to 18 000 data fields, which means that almost 850 million data fields have been processed by ECHA's IT tools in order for that information to be online.
The public C&L Inventory currently includes over 6.2 million notifications covering approximately 116 000 substances.
The biocidal active substances list contains 53 approved active substances and there are 2 452 authorised products on the biocidal products list.
Text by Hanna-Kaisa Torkkeli
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Biocidal Products Committee:
26 February-1 March
Committee for Risk Assessment:
6-8 March and
Committee for Socio-Economic
Management Board meeting:
23-27 March (tentative)
Member State Committee:
20-24 April (tentative)