Ask the Experts: REACH SVHCs & Discrepancies in Lab Testing

Ask the Experts: REACH SVHCs & Discrepancies in Lab Testing

Assent’s Regulatory experts answer your questions about REACH SVHCs, RoHS exemptions, and other product compliance requirements.


Our regulatory subject matter experts help a range of stakeholders solve compelling regulatory challenges associated with supply chain data management. We compile their insights to help educate compliance professionals through content, webinars, and events. Assent’s experts also provide advice directly to clients. Here are the top five questions our Regulatory team has responded to over the past month.


My company is about to begin supplier engagement to collect compliance information related to substances of very high concern (SVHCs) under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. Should we wait until the new Candidate List has been released so we can cite it in communications?

Neil Smith: As a best practice, we suggest you wait and campaign for data against the most recent SVHC list once it’s available, if possible. However, it’s important to note that some of the data you acquire after the release of the updated Candidate List may still be based on the previous version, as it takes a significant amount of time for your suppliers to collect and prepare this information, and many of them will have to engage suppliers of their own.

This is a common issue in SVHC data collection, and a reason why ongoing data collection is so important, especially for REACH SVHCs; it gives companies a chance to refresh their product data.


Keep pace with new REACH SVHCs and updates with our guide, REACH in 2020 & Beyond.


My company manufactures goods for import to China. To comply with the China Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), do we need to create a table of supplier data as supporting documentation?

Valerie Kuntz: China RoHS requires a hazardous substances table in simplified Chinese (sometimes colloquially called the “tic-tac-toe table”), which indicates whether the product contains substances from any of the six specific substance groups. If the information in the table covers all of the product’s component parts, then separate tables for the component parts are not required. However, you can choose to request tables from your suppliers if you’d like.

Assuming your company is creating one final table for the product itself (which is standard practice), the data you need from your suppliers is fairly simple. They need to provide information about any over-threshold substances in their parts, and they should also provide contact information and/or a signature based on your company’s preferences.

I’m concerned that my company may be in scope of new volatile organic compound (VOC) regulations in China, and one of them goes into effect in December 2020. Can you help identify the regulations?

Bruce Jarnot: Volatile organic compounds are carbon-based, organic chemicals that evaporate (or vaporize) at room temperature. Often used in adhesives, paints, and coatings, many of them react under sunlight to produce smog. Common VOCs include benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, and toluene. Some VOC regulations aim to limit worker or consumer exposure, while others are environmentally-focused and target large-scale emissions.

In 2018, China released a three-year action plan to improve air quality. The plan proposed:

  • Remediation plans for key VOC-emitting industries.
  • Banning the production and use of high-VOC solvent-based inks, adhesives, etc.
  • Enforcement actions to reduce the total environmental emission of certain VOCs by more than 10 percent between 2015–2020.

In March 2020, China released four mandatory national standards on VOCs in coatings, adhesives, inks, and cleaning agents. These standards affect companies using these products in the electrical and electronics industry. They are:

  • GB 30981-2020, “Limit of harmful substances of industrial protective coatings” — this becomes effective December 1, 2020.
  • GB 33372-2020, “Limit of volatile organic compounds content in adhesives” — this becomes effective December 1, 2020.
  • GB 38507-2020, “Limits of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in printing inks” — this becomes effective April 1, 2021.
  • GB 38508-2020, “Limits for volatile organic compounds content in cleaning agents” — this becomes effective December 1, 2020.

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) has recently been restricted in products on the EU market. Can I continue to use my stock of pre-existing parts in products that will be placed on the EU market if they contain the substance?

Valerie Kuntz: No, not unless there is an alternative expiry date approved for that product or use case. Products placed on the EU market were required to comply with this regulation starting on July 4, 2020. If a completed product was on the market before that point, it may still be sold. However, if the final product was not yet on the market, you may not place it on the market unless it meets the current requirements.

However, the PFOA expiration date for non-EU countries implementing the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is January 1, 2021.

A supplier previously declared that an article contained an SVHC, but our lab test shows the substance is not present. How should we approach this discrepancy?

James Calder: Some substances are challenging to definitively identify through testing. Your test’s outcomes could have been influenced by a number of factors, including the part being tested, the substance being tested for, the sample size, and/or the testing methodology. For example, some substances are difficult to test for in certain types of materials, or the sample size used may have been too small to return accurate results.

Once you understand these factors, I suggest discussing this with your supplier. They may be able to give more context to their declaration. For instance, there may be a known risk of intermittent contamination, which a spot test might not catch. It’s even possible that the supplier made a mistake in their declaration.

Laboratory testing is an invaluable source of information, but it isn’t foolproof. Section 5.2 of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA)’s Guidance on requirements for substances in articles details some potential challenges and considerations.


For more questions and answers, visit the last edition of Assent’s Ask the Experts blog.

Assent’s regulatory subject matter experts provide invaluable insight and guidance. Learn more about how they can help your company by contacting us at info@assentcompliance.com.

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