REF-4, the fourth REACH-EN-FORCE project conducted by the European Chemicals Agency, conducted a series of project checks in order to “raise awareness of restrictions in REACH Annex XVII, to identify non-compliance related to restrictions in the EU-market, to follow-up with enforcement action and to achieve a greater degree of compliance, and therefore a greater degree of health and environmental protection”. The project included 29 participating countries (with 27 reporting in time and in the format provided for the project) from the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) and examined 17 substances, 1,009 mixtures, and 4,599 articles.
Cadmium (12.1% non-compliance rate), nickel (7.9 % non-compliance rate), and lead (6.7% non-compliance rate) in levels which surpass the legal amount were found in jewelry. The project also uncovered restricted phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DNOP) present in toys tested. Additionally, even though asbestos has been restricted in the EU for many years, the project found that of 213 products tested for asbestos, 29 were non-compliant.
At the close of the project, recommendations were made that companies in the supply chain should take more responsibilities to obtain information regarding the chemical composition of the materials they use in their products. The project also stated that the enforcement authorities should continue enforcing the REACH restrictions by analyzing products currently available in the marketplace.