Bisphenol substitutes among chemicals added to SIN List

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

The SIN List is divided into 31 chemical groups, including bisphenols, phthalates and perfluorinated compounds
The SIN List is divided into 31 chemical groups, including bisphenols, phthalates and perfluorinated compounds

Related tags Water

A list of chemicals of high concern has been updated with substances added including those used in food packaging.

ChemSec added 28 more chemicals for priority action​ by the EU to help protect public health.  

The SIN List (Substitute It Now!), first presented in 2008, lists chemicals that the NGO has identified as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) based on the criteria established by REACH – the EU chemicals regulation.

For example Bisphenol F and Bisphenol S were included this year. These substances have been used to replace Bisphenol A, which is being evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority​ (EFSA).

Industry attention

Bisphenol S can be used as a monomer and/or additive in plastics with a Specific Migration Limit (SML) of 0.05 mg/kg and Bisphenol F can be used in epoxy resins and coatings.

Diisodecylphthalate (DiDP) was added – it is used as a plasticiser in repeated use and in single-use materials and articles contacting non-fatty foods except for infant formulae and follow-on formulae or processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children.

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), used in pulp and paper products, coatings, inks, is permitted as an additive up to SML 3 mg/kg and was added to the list.

Anna Lennquist, ChemSec toxicologist and product manager of the SIN List said it now contains 831 chemicals divided into 31 groups.

“We use the criteria in REACH and the level of concern to see if there are intrinsic hazard properties with a chemical,” ​she told

“Companies need to identify if they are using these substances, which can be a challenging task in itself, where they are using it and how, to see if it is necessary in that application and are there available alternatives. They can also ask suppliers or find examples of substitution.

“The list can be used to stay ahead of regulation as good alternatives can take years to put in place. The SIN List hopes to identify chemicals of concern so that you can be prepared to change.”

Chemical substitution

The list wants to start the move towards products without hazardous chemicals by speeding up legislative processes and giving guidance to companies and other stakeholders on which chemicals to start substituting. 

ChemSec said in recent decades hazardous chemicals have been put under the spotlight and become a target for regulatory action and phase-out.

“This has often been successful, but in some cases the substitutes have later been shown to have similar hazardous properties as the problematic chemicals they replaced​,” said the group.

Many of the chemicals that have been used to replace better known hazardous substances are just as problematic.

List support and online tool

Lisette van Vliet, The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)’s senior policy adviser on chemicals and chronic disease prevention, and a member of the SIN advisory team, said chemicals have often been replaced by closely-related versions, many of which are also endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

“So HEAL welcomes the division of the SIN List into 31 chemical groups, including bisphenols, phthalates and perfluorinated compounds to help identify the groupings whose members may have properties of concern.”

ChemSec also launched SINimilarity, a tool for identifying SIN-like chemicals to avoiding bad substitution.

It is possible to search 80,000 chemicals and find out if they are similar to any of those on the SIN List.

Anders Finnson, from the European Federation of National Associations of Water Services (EurEau) welcomed the move.

Substances that are not sufficiently biodegradable and which are susceptible to pose a risk to drinking water resources and aquatic ecosystems should not be allowed to enter the water cycle,” ​said EurEau’s representative in Chemsec’s business group.

“The phasing out of harmful substances is essential for the European water sector and therefore we fully support the new SIN List.” 

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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