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Detergent and cleaning agent formulations must be notified to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

06/2007, 05.06.2007

Electronic notification aids available to make processing easier!

The amendment to the Detergent and Cleaning Agent Act will afford consumers better protection against risks from detergents and cleaning agents. Attending doctors now have more rapid access to product information on detergents and cleaning agents when treating cases of poisoning and allergic reactions. For instance when someone ingests a household cleaning agent by mistake, the attending doctors must know which chemicals it contains and what impact they could have on health. In emergencies they can contact the German Poison Information and Treatment Centres. The Centres can then access the poison information database of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in order to advise doctors on the right treatment. That is why the manufacturers of detergents and cleaning products must henceforth notify their formulations electronically to BfR prior to their market launch. BfR has now made corresponding program aids with extensive information available on its website. The notification system is not new; the formulations of other product groups have been notified to BfR for decades and entered in the poison information database. "We have extended our tried-and-tested notification and assessment procedures and we are now in a position to process the electronic notifications of the detergent and cleaning agent manufacturers", says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, BfR President. Up to now BfR has processed around 20,000 product notifications a year in the poison information database. It is expected that there will now be an additional 5,000 to 6,000 notifications a year on detergents and cleaning agents.

On 5 May 2007 the new Detergent and Cleaning Agent Act entered into force in the Federal Republic of Germany. It implements the provisions of the EU Detergents Regulation. The new Act aims to protect both the health of consumers in their daily handling of detergents and cleaning agents, and the environment.

In order to guarantee this protection, the manufacturers of detergents and cleaning agents are obliged to submit specific data including information on the ingredients of their products to BfR. The data are processed at BfR for entry in the poison information database and regularly passed on to the new Poison Information and Treatment Centres of the federal states. This enables the Centres to advise attending doctors particularly when dealing with poison accidents and, in this way, to provide important, life-saving support.

The technical prerequisite for product notifications is a BfR company code which can be applied for in writing (or by email). The data must be notified in an XML data set. They can either be extracted from an existing database with the help of a BfR data set description or entered using a standard software module developed by BfR. Just one click suffices to convert them into an XML file. BfR has posted more comprehensive information on the notification procedure on its website.

Since 1984 BfR and its predecessor institutes have supplied the German Poison Information and Treatment Centres with information for emergency advice, initially on a voluntary basis and since 1990 on a statutory basis. The data are stored in the poison information database. Over the years the following product groups have been systematically entered in the database: dangerous substances and preparations, cosmetics, biocides and now detergents and cleaning agents as well. The usefulness of the database will now be further enhanced by more than 33,000 voluntary notifications from manufacturers and distributors who make their formulations available for emergency cases on precautionary grounds. At the present time, the poison information database contains around 230,000 formulations for emergencies. This makes the BfR poison information database one of the biggest formulation databases in the world.

Further information on the notification obligation, the form and the BfR company code will soon be available on BfR’s homepage (www.bfr.bund.de) under “Poisoning”/Notifications of formulations/Detergents and cleaning agents.

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