Ban on polymeric infill requires more information

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has asked its Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) to prepare a supplementary opinion on the proposed restriction on intentionally-added microplastics with respect to polymeric infills used in synthetic turf sports fields. The request has been made so that RAC can consider new documents that have emerged since RAC adopted its opinion in June 2020.

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has asked its Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) to prepare a supplementary opinion on the proposed restriction on intentionally-added microplastics with respect to polymeric infills used in synthetic turf sports fields. The request has been made so that RAC can consider new documents that have emerged since RAC adopted its opinion in June 2020.

The RAC is requested to focus on the restriction options for containing infill materials in view of submissions made to the consultation on the draft opinion of the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC).

Specifically, ECHA are asking RAC to consider the recently published CEN technical report TR 17519 on risk management measures (RMM), and a study that assessed the effectiveness of the RMM proposed in CEN TR17519 to reduce infill releases to < 7g/m2.

This study by Magnusson & Mácsik, (Ecoloop) was commissioned by the EMEA Synthetic Turf Council (ESTC), the body that represents the synthetic turf industry in Europe, Middle-East and Africa. The task group that undertook the work for the CEN document was chaired by the ESTC technical director Alastair Cox and a number of ESTC members participated.

In a note to the RAC, ECHA highlights that the RMM recommended in CEN TR 17519 have now been incorporated into the requirements for synthetic turf pitches published by FIFA, World Rugby, the Rugby Football League, the Gaelic Athletics Association, the International Hockey Federation, and funding agencies such as the UK’s Football Foundation.

In the opinion RAC delivered in June 2020 they expressed concerns about the practicality and enforceability of risk management measures in the absence of appropriate international/European standards or guidance on their use. With the CEN report now being in the public domain and having been embraced voluntarily by all major sports governing bodies, ECHA invites RAC to consider whether the publication addresses the concern they initially raised.

RAC aims for having a first discussion and adoption of this additional work item once it meets in March 2021. It has been asked to submit its supplementary opinion prior to the draft European Commission proposals on the microplastics restriction are published for the consultation with the Member States in June 2021.

The official request to the RAC and background information can be found at ECHA and the draft recast of the PIC Regulation (europa.eu)

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