EU’s new harmonised classification for cobalt metal announced

March 19, 2020

The Cobalt Institute, a non-profit trade association composed of producers, users, recyclers, and traders of cobalt based in Guildford, Surrey, UK, has reported the EU’s updated harmonised classification rules for cobalt metal, including a temporary Generic Concentration Limit (GCL) of ≥ 0.1 %. The new rules entered into force on March 9, 2020, and will start to apply from October 1, 2021. The cobalt industry is reportedly working with its downstream users to ensure an effective implementation of the new harmonised classification.

According to the Cobalt Institute, it believes that EU regulation should focus on the established hazard concerns linked to the inhalation of cobalt metal. However, despite existing data reportedly indicating the safety of dermal and oral exposure to cobalt metal, the new harmonised classification is not limited to inhalation. As a consequence, the cobalt industry plans to invest significant additional resources to generate new scientific evidence to conclusively prove that cobalt metal can be used safely once exposure via inhalation is controlled.

The Cobalt Institute explains that it welcomes the European Commission’s recognition, through the temporary GCL, of the need to further refine the methodology for deriving concentration limits for inorganic materials such as cobalt metal. The association encourages the EU and member state authorities to continue to engage in the expert group which has been established to review this methodology under the European Chemicals Agency. In the meantime, the CI reports that it will be important in its view to maintain the current GCL, the appropriateness of which it is confident will be confirmed by the ECHA review.

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