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Chlorinated Paraffins under special focus within food safety and environmental risk assessment strategies


Short and medium chain chlorinated paraffins have a toxic effect on aquatic organisms, very poor biodegradable qualities, remain in the environment for long periods and therefore can bioaccumulate in living organisms and enter the human and animal food chains. They have been identified in most environmental compartments at trace levels like in water, soil, biota and human tissue. The main path in which chlorinated paraffins (SCCP and MCCP) enter the environment is via emissions from metal and leather processing (in the form of waste water) and from waste treatment and the depositing of plastics (in the form of exhaust emissions and waste water).

Listing under the Stockholm Convention

As a consequence, at the eighth Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention, held from 24 April to 5 May 2017, Annexes A of the Stockholm Convention was amended to list now also short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) as chemicals with potential adverse effects in Annex A with specific exemptions. Their production and use in Europe is restricted and regulated.

Difficult to Determine

Detection and quantification of CPs poses analytical challenges: Chlorinated paraffins are present in the environment at low levels. They are very complex isomeric mixtures and thus difficult to separate chromatographically. Although there is no consensus so far for the use of a validated analytical procedure for the routine monitoring of chlorinated paraffins in environmental samples, biota as well as food and feed, there are several analytical methods that are used to detect and quantify CPs.

Interlaboratory Studies of the European Union Reference Laboratory for Dioxins and PCBs

To establish a common ground for CP-analysis in food and feed and eventually ensure comparable results, the European Union Reference Laboratory (EU-RL) for Dioxins and PCBs in Feed and Food started a series of interlaboratory studies focused on sensitivity, selectivity and robustness for the determination of SCCPs and MCCPs as part of the work program for the next years, thus strongly indicating that chlorinated paraffins got into focus of the food and feed safety within the European Union and might be included into the food and feed legislation in the future.

The competence center for the analysis of dioxins and PCBs within the Eurofins network of laboratories - Eurofins GfA Lab Service GmbH - has taken part in the first round of these interlaboratory studies. Eurofins GfA Lab Service GmbH will also take part in future rounds to ensure the accuracy and comparability, and thus the quality of the entire analytical portfolio.

Background Information on Chlorinated Parrafins

Chlorinated paraffins (CPs) are complex mixtures of certain organic polychlorinated n-alkanes. The chlorination degree of CPs can vary between 30 and 70 wt %. These chemicals are subdivided according to their carbon chain length into short chain CPs (SCCPs, C10-C13), medium chain CPs (MCCPs, C14-C17) and long chain CPs (LCCPs, C>17). Chlorinated paraffins are, among others, used as flame retardants and softening agents in PVC and varnish raw materials as well as an element of paints and lubrication fluids e.g. in the metal processing. Short-chain (C10-C13) chlorinated paraffins are primarily used in metallurgy, medium-chain (C14-C17) chlorinated paraffins as softeners and flame retardants in various PVC products such as floor coverings, cable casings and insulation materials.

» Report of the Conference

Source: Eurofins Scientific