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Editor-in-chief: Maurizio Roncaccia
Editors: Paul Trouth and Päivi Jokiniemi
Article related to: Communicating about safety
Improving safe use information of mixtures
If you produce mixtures and are struggling to put together the information on using them safely, this article is for you. There is a new approach to help you – it is called the Lead Component Identification (LCID) methodology. It has been developed to help you communicate the safe use conditions of your chemical products to downstream users and to increase the safety of those using your mixture.
REACH requires every supplier to communicate the safe use conditions for their chemical products to their downstream users. Normally, this is done through a safety data sheet (SDS). However, this is not always easy, which is where the LCID methodology can help. “It offers formulators a way of doing it based on the exposure scenarios received for a mixture’s component substances,” Dr Angelika Hanschmidt from the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) explains.
Controlling the risks of the most hazardous components
VCI and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) have worked together to develop the methodology. According to Dr Hanschmidt, it provides a procedure to determine the risk driving components of the mixture. These are often the most hazardous components but also the concentration level of the substances has to be taken into account. “The safe use information of components is important for determining the appropriate operational conditions and risk management measures for the mixture as a whole.” By managing the risks of the most hazardous components, the risks of the less hazardous ones are also likely to be controlled.
“Formulators of mixtures can use this methodology to derive safe use conditions for industrial, professional and consumer uses,” Dr Hanschmidt says. It is of particular relevance for mixtures that are classified according to the CLP criteria and also for those mixtures with persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic, or very persistent and very bioaccumulative components (PBT/vPvB).
LCID – how to get started?
Cefic and VCI have a practical guide for the LCID methodology on their websites. If you have some experience in preparing exposure scenarios and safety data sheets, you should find it straightforward to use the methodology by following the guide. For specific cases, expert judgement may be needed, but the guide offers further information and examples.
As well as the guide, there is a downloadable Excel template that can help you with the calculations you need to carry out to prepare the safe use information. “Of course, if you deal with high numbers of mixtures, you are going to need a professional software solution. We are happy to see that some software developers have already implemented the LCID methodology as part of their packages,” Dr Hanschmidt says.
Although the methodology can be used for most cases, addressing both human health and environmental hazards, there are some very specific conditions where exposure or hazards change when a component is included in a mixture e.g. the corrosiveness of organic acids and amines might be lost due to a buffering mechanism of the formulation. This still requires expert judgement and is therefore out of the LCID’s scope.
A big improvement
Covestro, a manufacturer of hightech polymer materials, has welcomed the methodology and made it a part of their daily operations. “We have integrated the methodology into our workflow as a standard approach for all classified mixtures that require the safety data sheet to be completed with safe use information,” says Dr Susannah Havermann, toxicologist and product safety expert from Covestro.
According to Dr Havermann, the new safety data sheets are easier to read and they focus on the most relevant information. “Using the LCID methodology has improved our safety data sheets for mixtures. Most of them have become shorter. Some annexes have become unnecessary because the safe use conditions have been embedded into the main document.”
“The methodology adds value because it efficiently connects the information from REACH exposure assessments to the current classification rules for mixtures under CLP. It uses derived no-effect levels (DNELs) and predicted no-effect concentrations (PNECs) instead of the classification alone, which allows the available hazard information to be better compared. In that way, it implements the current law and contributes to safety for the environment and the people handling the chemical products,” Dr Havermann concludes.