POSSIBLE BAN - Mercury containing measuring devices (gov)

Date: 13 May 2010 

Do you use mercury-containing measuring devices in a laboratory or for calibration/measuring/weighing purposes?
Do you manufacture/supply mercury-containing measuring devices for laboratory/calibration/measuring/weighing purposes?
If so, please note:

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) plans to restrict (possibly ban) mercury containing measuring devices used in healthcare and other professional and industrial uses, in the coming months.

NB: This may mean that mercury containing measuring devices will no longer be allowed to be placed on the EU market or used in healthcare and other professional and industrial settings. This may have implications for your business.

You can have your say during the upcoming ECHA public consultation!!

Did you know that you can submit information:

On your particular use and work practices as well as information on risk control measures you have in place so that they can be considered before a decision is made

On technically feasible alternative substances or technologies or comment on whether alternative substances and technologies proposed by ECHA are suitable for your business

Submissions to the public consultation can be made directly to ECHA or via ourselves, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) as the Irish regulator for REACH. Alternatively, you can also make submissions through your trade association.

Please see box below for further background information on current Mercury controls.

Mercury is a non-degradable environmental pollutant which is transformed in nature to highly toxic methyl derivatives. The EU chemicals legislation, REACH restricts the use of mercury in certain measuring devices to protect the environment.

Currently, the REACH Regulation bans the placing on the market of:

1) Mercury-containing fever thermometers and  

2) Other mercury containing measuring devices intended for sale to the general public (e.g. manometers, barometers, sphygmomanometers, thermometers other than fever thermometers) are banned from being placed on the market.

Since this ban came into effect on the 3rd April 2009, the EU Commission has continued to review information to assess the availability of reliable safer alternatives that are technically and economically feasible for mercury-containing sphygmomanometers and other measuring devices in healthcare and in other professional and industrial uses.

Following this review, the Commission concluded that such alternatives appear to be available for most uses of mercury-containing sphygmomanometers as well as for other mercury-containing devices in industrial and professional uses (e.g. thermometers, manometers, barometers, tensiometers etc.). However they have found that for mercury containing porosimeters, pyconometers and mercury electrodes in polarography, some technical limitations exist.

As a result of these findings, the Commission has asked the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to prepare an Annex XV dossier to propose a restriction (possibly a ban) on the placing on the market and use of mercury for sphygmomanometers and other measuring devices in healthcare and in other professional and industrial uses.

Please see link to the Health & Safety Authority Ireland website http://www.hsa.ie/eng/ 

The full dossier detailing the proposed ban can be found at the ECHA website and your submissions to the public consultation can be made directly via this website. Alternatively, you can ask your trade association to submit comments on your behalf.

We would appreciate if you would also make us aware of any issues you may have with this proposed restriction. This is so that we are aware of how it may affect Irish business. A copy of your submission can be forwarded to the e-mail address: feedback@hsa.ie