Classification of zinc as a dangerous substance: Commission answers parliamentary question

September 6, 2002

Strasbourg, 5 September 2002

Verbatim report of proceedings, 5 September 2002, Part A

Answer As you mention, the Commission chairs the Member State group responsible for Classification and Labelling of Dangerous Substances.

At the June 2002 meeting of this Working Group, industry provided and explained the results of the study presenting the scientific evidence to which you are referring. Taking these into account, Member State experts in the Working Group agreed on a compromise tentative proposal, namely to classify zinc in the massive form with the risk phrase R53 (May cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment), which is the weakest level of environmental classification.

R53 would cover the concern about dissolved ions from any piece of massive zinc, i.e. any particle size larger than powder particles. In contrast to this, zinc in powder form is classified N; R50-53 (Very toxic to aquatic organisms, May cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment) and labelled with the symbol 'Dangerous for the environment'. This is stronger than R53 alone. This proposal would therefore classify each of the sizes of zinc placed on the Community market differently and that size would be taken into account.

It should be noted that this is only a tentative proposal of the working group for a ioharmonisedln classification and labelling. The European Congress on Biotechnology (ECB) will allow another round of discussion at the next meeting of the working group. It will then finalise its advice to prepare the Commission decision.

For all dangerous substances where a ban or severe restriction is envisaged, it is standard procedure that the Commission asks for a socio-economic analysis to be performed. However, in this case, a socio-economic analysis has not been done so far, as the proposed classification with R 53 does not automatically lead to any restriction on the marketing or use of zinc.

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