Proposals by Sweden for the harmonised EU classification of lead metal as a proven human reproductive hazard will have serious repercussions for the whole European metals industry, the International Lead Association (ILA) has warned.

With the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) public consultation concluding today (7 December) the ILA believes that the dossier presented by Sweden ‘lacks scientific robustness’ and has ‘insufficient relevant technical data to support its conclusion that lead metal (including massive) is hazardous to the developing foetus and to fertility’.

The ILA is also concerned that there is no adequate justification for Sweden to propose a Specific Concentration Limit (SCL) of 0.03% which will result in many more substances, mixtures, metals and alloys being classified as reproductive hazards due to the presence of metallic lead as a trace impurity.

The association has put together detailed scientific and regulatory arguments to challenge the Swedish proposal that all forms of lead metal should be assigned a category 1A classification and thus bring them into the scope of REACH candidate listing and authorisation.

ILA Managing Director, Dr Andy Bush, said: “We do not believe the dossier submitted by Sweden contains sufficient justification to support the conclusions that lead in massive form meets the criteria for classification in the EU as a proven human reproductive health hazard.”

The ILA argues that:

  • The health hazard of lead in massive form should be assessed differently from other forms of lead.
  • The SCL proposed is over-precautionary and will result in many substances, in which lead is present as an impurity, being classified as a reproductive hazard. This will have damaging effects on recycling flows and marketing of a range of metallic substances and products.
  • Unscientifically sound assumptions have been made by Sweden that exposure to lead metal in massive form would have the same health effects as exposure to soluble lead compounds.
  • Potential effects on childhood IQ following exposure to lead following birth, should not be used in classification as proof of damage to the developing foetus.



Notes to editors

About the ILA
The International Lead Association is a membership body that supports companies involved in the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tonnes of lead and almost two thirds of lead production in the western world.

The ILA believes that lead is a material that has a justified place in a sustainable EU economy. Lead-acid batteries are its main use and this application is a cost-effective, proven and safe technology which is 100% recyclable.

With offices in the UK and USA the ILA provides a range of technical, scientific and communications support and is focused on all aspects of the industry’s safe production, use and recycling of lead and helps funds bodies such as the International Lead Management Center and the International Lead Zinc Research Organization.