ECHA has added lead (CAS No.: 7439-92-1) to the REACH Candidate List of substances, as of 27 June 2018. However, the way in which lead is used in your products may exempt it from the notification requirement of REACH, particularly if the lead is used in an application of a glass or ceramic frit. This article examines RoHS exemption 7(c)-I, currently renewed through 21 July 2021, REACH Annex V and its guidance from November 2012, as well as recent statements and positions from glass and ceramic manufacturers.
RoHS exemption 7(c)-I states the application of lead in the following is exempted.
“Electrical and electronic components containing lead in a glass or ceramic other than dielectric ceramic in capacitors, e.g. piezoelectronic devices, or in a glass or ceramic matrix compound.”
Based upon this exemption, any manufacturer using lead in this application would cite the exemption 7(c)-I on an EU RoHS Declaration of Conformity. However, the application of lead in this scenario would not require notification to customers on the use of lead as an SVHC for REACH. To understand why this is the case, let’s look at REACH Annex V.
Annex V of the REACH Directive lists thirteen categories of substances for which registration of the substance with ECHA is not necessary. There are, however, conditions to be met in order to claim the exemption. Criteria for meeting the conditions vary by category. Per the guidance on Annex V, published in 2012, but cited by ECHA as recently as May 2018, the criteria for glass and ceramic frit is that it must not meet the criteria for classification as dangerous according to Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 which replaced the fully repealed Directive 67/548/EEC and Directive 1999/45/EC.
The rationale for the exemption is based upon the characterization of glass as an UVCB substance (unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products or biological materials). The guidance also suggests that glass “can best be defined through its starting materials and production process” for the purposes of legislation. Furthermore, the raw materials used in manufacturing a particular glass “meet the definition of intermediates inasmuch as they are transformed by synthesis into…glass.” This is based upon EU Court case-law found here. To this end, any glass or ceramic frit that does not possess significant hazard properties is exempted from REACH substance registration, thus precluding it from evaluation and further actions under REACH including notification of its use in articles.
Recent positions reiterating the exemption of glass have been stated by glass manufacturers and their associations. Glass Alliance Europe has published information detailing this position as well as many citations supporting the position of no notification on the use of lead for 7(c)-I exempted use of lead. Per Glass Alliance Europe there is “no obligation to notify under Art. 7(2) of REACH, nor to communicate information down the supply chain under Art. 33 of REACH. This was confirmed in ECHA Q&A – ID 1218 – 12/09/2016 relating to boron compounds.” Further, a prominent glass supplier in Germany states that as their “products consist mainly of glass and glass, as a substance, is not included in the Candidate List, there are no information duties under [REACH].”
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