This comprehensive assessment, completed by the copper industry in 2008, covers the production, use and end-of life aspects of the copper value chain. It shows that the existing legislative framework generally safeguards Europe’s environment, the health of industry workers and the general public. Following extensive review, the risk assessment was agreed by the European Commission’s Technical Committee for New and Existing Substances. The Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risk (SCHER) also performed an evaluation and further endorsed the conclusions on the environmental and human health risk characterisations.
In March 2009, the conclusions of this initiative were endorsed by the EU authorities and the Copper Voluntary Risk Assessment was the first industry report published on the website of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA).
The study concludes that:
- Copper is an essential nutrient for humans as well as all living organisms
- The existing regulatory frameworks, covering the production, use and end-of life aspects of the copper value chain, generally safeguards Europe's environment, the health of industry workers and the general public
- Copper deficiency may be of concern for some European citizens - with actual daily intakes below the World Health Organisation's nutritional guideline value of 1.4 mg Cu/adult (70kg)
- Copper is not a CMR (carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic) or a PBT (persistent, bio-accumulative, toxic) material
The VRA also:
- Demonstrates the proactive steps taken by the copper industry to meet its duty of care
- Provides the copper value chain and the public authorities with a solid scientific platform on which to base future regulatory initiatives
- Forms the basis of a risk reduction plan in a few, specific local exposure situations where risk management actions may be required
- Provides the copper metal industry with the solid scientific platform needed to meet its obligations under REACH