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August 25, 2015

Companies Appeal ECHA’s Decision on Silicon Dioxide

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On August 19, 2015, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced appeals of its March 11, 2015, decision on substance evaluation for silicon dioxide.  Case A-015-2015 was filed by Evonik Degussa GmbH and 34 others, while Case A-014-2015 was filed by Grace GmbH & Co. KG and Advanced Refining Technologies GmbH.  The appellants in Case A-015-2015 challenge ECHA’s decision to include silicon dioxide on the Community Rolling Action Plan (CoRAP) “due to initial grounds for concern relating to ‘the substance characterisation, nanoparticles and toxicity of different forms of the substance.’”  The appellants argue that none of the alleged grounds for concern are criteria for inclusion of a substance on the CoRAP, and as a result, ECHA’s decision to include silicon dioxide on the CoRAP was adopted in breach of Article 44 of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation and must be set aside.  In addition, the appellants claim further that, since the decision to include the substance on the CoRAP was illegal and must be set aside, the March 11, 2015, decision lacks legal basis as only substances appearing on the CoRAP can be evaluated.  In Case A-014-2015, the appellants’ arguments include:  “The Agency has based its decision very largely on its own classification of [synthetic amporphous silica] as a nanomaterial, a classification that the Agency is not empowered to make and that in any event is irrelevant to the toxicity of [synthetic amporphous silica].”  In the March 11, 2015, decision, ECHA requires silicon dioxide registrants to provide specified data by March 20, 2017.