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'Chemicals under pressure' divide UN GHS committee

Labels - Pictogram Reproduced with permission of the secretariat of Unece

The UN sub-committee of experts for GHS has recognised the need to address the issue of “chemicals under pressure” within the Globally Harmonised System, but has deferred the final decision on how to do this until a later date.

The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and the European Industrial Gases Association (Eiga) proposed creating a new chapter to address these substances at a previous meeting. A counter proposal – to change chapter 2.3 (flammable aerosols) to cover chemicals under pressure was put forward by others.

Chemicals under pressure already have UN numbers (UN3500-UN3505) in the document 'Recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods', also known as the Orange Book. But, according to Cefic and Eiga, the current version of GHS does not properly cover these substances' hazards, raising the risks of confusion and incorrect classification.

At its December meeting in Geneva, the sub-committee reviewed mock-ups of the new chapter and of a revised version of chapter 2.3.

Cefic and Eiga said that this looked “lengthy and complicated”. Furthermore, aerosols and chemicals under pressure were addressed separately in the transport of dangerous goods document. For consistency, and because of “different test procedures” for aerosols, “a complete merge of the requirements is not possible”, they said.

The European Aerosol Federation (FEA) agreed that a new chapter was necessary. “Aerosols are by definition non-refillable, have limited capacity and have a relatively low permitted maximum internal pressure,” it said.

Experts at the meeting were divided by the two options. The sub-committee asked Cefic and Eiga to take account of comments made by the experts present and deferred its decision until the proposal was “further developed”.

Test guidelines

Also at the December meeting, the sub-committee heard that the project on non-animal test methods for hazard classification was underway. The aim is to determine how reference to relevant test guidelines might be included in the GHS.

The project group has started examination of existing guidelines for skin irritation and corrosion and selected four in vitro guideline documents.

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