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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SIN List?

The SIN List is a list of hazardous chemicals that are used in a wide variety products and manufacturing processes around the globe. The SIN abbreviation – Substitute It Now – implies that these chemicals should be removed as soon as possible as they pose a threat to human health and the environment.

But the SIN List is more than just a list of chemicals. It’s a tool to facilitate chemicals management and a perfect starting point for any organisation committed to identifying and substituting hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives.

The SIN List consists of chemicals that ChemSec have identified as fulfilling the criteria for Substances of Very High Concern as defined by the EU chemicals regulation REACH. The list is based on credible, publicly available information from existing databases and scientific studies, as well as new research.


Who has developed the SIN List?

The SIN List has been developed by ChemSec, a non-profit organisation working to substantially reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and its impact on human health and the environment. ChemSec was founded in 2002 by environmental organisations and is funded by grants from authorities and foundations.

The development of the SIN List has been carried out in close collaboration with scientists and technical experts and guided by an NGO advisory committee of leading environmental, health, women and consumer organisations mainly in Europe but also in the US.


What is the connection between the SIN List and REACH?

Within the EU chemicals regulation REACH, the most hazardous chemicals are defined as Substances of Very High Concern. EU member states have decided that the use of these substances should be strictly limited.

However, the process of actually regulating specific chemicals within the scope of REACH has up until now been far too slow.


What are Substances of Very High Concern?

The criteria for Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) are described in REACH article 57. Three categories are included there, and also the SIN List encompasses substances from these three categories.

  • The first category is chemicals that can cause cancer, alter DNA or damage reproductive systems. These are called CMR substances (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic to Reproduction).
  • Then there are substances that cause problems on the longer time scale – toxic substances that do not easily break down but rather accumulate in the food chain. These are known as PBT substances (Persistent, Bio-accumulative and Toxic). There is also the abbreviation vPvB, short for very Persistent and very Bio-accumulative.
  • The third category is called “substances of equivalent level of concern”. This category covers substances that are not automatically covered by the other two categories, but which nonetheless give rise to equivalent level of concern in terms of potential damage. This category includes e.g. endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and Persistent, Mobile and Toxic chemicals (PMTs).


Why is the SIN List continuously updated?

Over time, new information on the hazardous properties becomes available. The political discussions and the interpretation of REACH criteria can also be slightly modified over time. In order to keep the SIN List up-to-date with the developments, regular updates are needed.


Why are the substances on the SIN List grouped?

The aim of dividing the SIN List into groups is to make the SIN List an even more user-friendly, hands-on tool for progressive chemicals management. As structurally similar substances often share both desired functional properties as well as hazardous properties it can be wise to tackle chemicals group-wise in order to avoid so called regrettable substitution.

The grouping of the SIN List also creates the foundation for the SINimilarity tool.


Many SIN substances have not even been registered – how can you say that they are relevant?

It is very difficult for anyone not having access to industry data to judge how a substance is being used. There are several good reasons to look at non-registered substances as well:

  • Not all substances need to be registered. Many hazardous substances could in fact be among the low volume chemicals.
  • Hazardous substances that are not registered could still be imported into the EU through articles.
  • By addressing these chemicals, we assure that they will not be used in the future.


Where can I find which scientific studies are used for the SIN List?

You cannot find the scientific references for each substance in the SIN List database, but if you send us an email, we are happy to forward the background data for the substances you are interested in. Please note that for substances having already an official classification as being CMR – this is enough for inclusion on the SIN List and we do not have additional background data.


Does ChemSec have a process to delist substances from the SIN List?

If we are presented with new evidence about a substance that could invalid our earlier conclusions, we evaluate this evidence and other evidence published since the addition to the SIN List, to see if the conclusion needs to be changed. We have done this for a few substances, but so far there has been no reason to remove a chemical. In most cases, new data on a hazardous chemical tend to emphasize the hazardous properties rather than the opposite.


What is SINimilarity?

SINimilarity is a new tool to make it easier to avoid non-sustainable and regrettable substitution. When using our online search function and searching for a substance that is not on the SIN List, you can find out how similar it is to the substances on the SIN List. For substances that are similar to those already on the SIN List in terms of structure and function we recommend further investigations before use.


What kind of results do I get when searching the SINimilarity tool?

You will find out whether the substance you have searched for contains the same group specific structural elements as SIN substances and/or if it has structural similarity to SIN substances.


What is the difference between QSAR and SINimilarity?

QSAR relate mathematical descriptions of chemical structures and measured activities to be able to predict the activities of new chemicals. SINimilarity builds on the methods often used in in QSAR to assess similarity but we are not using measured activities.

SINimilarity is a search tool that finds predefined structural elements in molecules and assess similarity between molecules. SINimilarity cannot predict toxicity but can easily be used by anyone.


Would ChemSec like the SINimilarity tool to be used in legislation?

No, the SINimilarity tool could not be used in legislation but could hopefully inspire policy makers to find ways to deal with groups of chemicals in the future, instead of restricting one substance at a time which in many cases will lead to a shift to a similar substance, with similar hazardous properties but with a different CAS number.