- ECHA Welcomes Stakeholders to first Meeting Day in Helsinki
- Substances of very high concern
- Risk Communication Network established
- ECHA Management Board elects New Chair
- Executive Director's Scientific Advisor and two new Unit Heads appointed
- Interview: Christel Musset
- Living in Helsinki: Kevin Pollard
- European Schooling up and running in Helsinki
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Interview: Christel Musset
In ECHA, new procedures and IT tools are constantly being introduced at a fast pace with the timetable set by REACH. Christel Musset, the new Director of Directorate for Registration & IT Tools, works on the backbone of REACH operations leading the development of these tools and processes. Her target is to contribute to worldwide access to information on properties of chemicals and their effects on health and environment.
|Christel Musset, the surgeon on REACH backbone, is extremely satisfied with her challenging and rewarding job.|
A year ago, Christel Musset came to ECHA from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy. She has been involved in the implementation of REACH since 2004 and was one of the seconded officials who decided to apply for a permanent position in the Agency. "I find my job extremely interesting and challenging.
As Director for Registration & IT Tools, I have the responsibility for the registration processes. I am also in charge of all the IT tools that are developed for supporting these processes," Musset explains. "The REACH operations are supported by three big IT systems. REACH-IT is the backbone for the Agency and the Member State Competent Authorities and allows them to follow the work done on REACH. With IUCLID5, industry can prepare and submit dossiers to the Agency. In October, we start the development of a third tool for the preparation of chemical safety assessments and chemical safety reports."
Challenges and business as usual
A new release of REACH-IT is currently being tested. "This version will introduce automatic electronic submission. Companies can then submit their dossiers automatically to ECHA," Christel Musset says. "A great challenge will be to replace our manual procedures by the IT system. A large amount of data has been stored in temporary storage, and we have to put it back into the IT system. The challenge is to replace in an extremely cautious way a manual system working very well and efficiently by an automated system which is under test. We are now evaluating which would be the best time for the transition."
"The Agency also has to provide by 1 December 2008 a registration number for all substances notified under the former "New Chemicals" legislation. A new functionality in REACH-IT enables us to distribute the registration numbers to the owners of these notifications," Musset explains. On the horizon, some business-wide challenges are approaching. "We need to be ready to publish the list of pre-registered substances in January 2009 and to handle the big peak of about 20,000 registration dossiers for high production volume chem-icals that we are going to receive 2010." According to Christel Musset, submissions are generally running according to expect-ations.
"With the first dossiers we received, there were quality problems, especially the information submitted was not sufficient." ECHA reacted fast by providing user man-uals and ad hoc tools with which companies can verify on their own premises whether their dossiers contain sufficient information.
Pre-registration deadline soon
Pre-registration will continue until 1 December 2008. The previously expected total number of pre-registrations has already been reached. "Since the end of July, we have opened the bulk pre-registration which enables pre-registration of several substances at the same time. Since then, the number of pre-registration has increased drastically." "ECHA expected to have around 30,000 substances pre-registered, which corresponds to 150,000 pre-registrations. We have now* reached the number of 35,000 pre-registered substances and have more than 130,000 pre-registrations." "We have in our current statistics 300,000* pre-registrations, as some companies pre-registered the complete EINECS inventory." "The ECHA IT system can hold the situation, but think about the effects this has on the workability of the SIEFs."
"When the companies are going to share data in the SIEFs, there will be other participants which have no intention to register and no data on their substance." "In addition, for a company pre-registering the entire inventory participation in the SIEFs may become unmanageable because of the amount of resulting communication", Musset stresses. "There are provisions in the legislation for late pre-registrants, for the case where you start manufacturing or importing substances above one ton per year for the first time. Companies should also consider this option in their pre-registration strategy," Christel Musset emphasises.
Precise identification is vital
Companies should identify their substances carefully. "If you have no EINECS number, no CAS number, it is very important to use international standards – we recommend the IUPAC - to indicate the name of the substance, to be able to share data with the others." "In case of doubt, companies should contact the Member State Competent Authority or their trade organisation", Musset recommends. "Based on the information received from the companies, the Agency needs to see whether we have in our database previous registrants, in particular those having done notification under the former legislation. We are very careful and do not put companies in contact if we think that the substances concerned are not the same."
Confidentiality is treated with highest priority in ECHA. "There is a procedure in place to guarantee that, and we are really extremely cautious," Musset stresses.
Working for data availability
Christel Musset has already given thought to what should happen with data in future. "We have started to think about data availability, about how we could make the most of the information we receive from companies."
"Over the last five years I have contributed to a number of projects at an international level to make information on properties of chemicals available to the public. Everything we build in ECHA has to make sense in this global perspective."
"The overall strategy of Directorate C is to be able to collect information, treat this information and to disseminate this information in the most effective and understandable way. "
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Committee for Socio-Economic
1-4 and 8-11 June (tentative);
7-11 and 14-18 September (tentative)
Committee for Risk Assessment:
1-5 and 8-12 June;
7-11 and 14-18 September (tentative)
Member State Committee:
Biocidal Products Committee:
Management Board meeting: