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REACH and the impact of Hexavalent Chromium

Since 2007, the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) Directive has been in force across the EU.  The aim of the Directive is to ensure the safe use of chemicals throughout the supply chain, and to provide a high level of protection to human health and the environment from those chemicals.


It is a requirement of REACH that companies are required to identify and manage the risks associated with the substances that they produce, in quantities of one tonne or more per year, and register them with the European Chemicals Agency. 


The Directive applies to substances manufactured or imported in the EU as a substance on its own, a mixture of substances, or produced during industrial processes.  Some chemicals used in the surface engineering industry fall under REACH, such as hexavalent chromium which can be used during chrome plating.


In most cases it will be your supplier who will be responsible for registration, and it is advised that you contact them to find out whether the chemicals you have sourced from them have been registered.  It is up to you, however, to register any chemicals produced as a result of your surface engineering processes, if they fall into the one tonne or more category.


Hexavalent chromium is included within REACH because it is the most toxic form of chromium.  It is a known human carcinogen, and the toxic waste produced from the hexavalent chromium bath during electroplating is deemed a hazardous waste material.  It is included in the list of chemicals that have been identified as substances of very high concern (SVHC), the use of which is restricted and can only be used under authorisation.


More information regarding REACH can be found on the HSE website.   If you have any queries regarding REACH or the use of hexavalent chromium for chrome plating, the SEA are here to help.  Give us a ring on 0121 237 1123 or email us at info@sea.org.uk

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