EU member states have voted to approve a harmonised classification of the preservative methylisothiazolinone (MIT) as an allergen in mixtures like paint and detergents.

The vote by members of the REACH committee on 20 February means that such mixtures must be labelled when they contain more than 0.0015% of MIT – a limit value lowered from 1%.

In addition, those mixtures must bear the warning “Contains methylisothiazolinone. May cause an allergic skin reaction.”

The decision amends Annex VI of the CLP Regulation, as part of the European Commission’s adaptation to technical progress.

The Commission’s proposal will now undergo three months of scrutiny by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. They can either veto or allow the Commission to adopt it.

MIT controls

The Danish EPA has worked with the country’s allergy knowledge centre to investigate allergic reactions to the substance and has pushed for EU-wide controls.

The head of the EPA’s chemicals unit, Isabelle Navarro Vinten, says the agency has seen evidence of allergies to MIT “since the drug was allowed in cosmetics in 2005”. There have also been “several bad cases” of MIT allergy “directly related to paint”, she adds.

Consumers can avoid MIT by choosing Swan-ecolabelled cosmetics and by reading content declarations on paint and detergents, she says.

The Commission’s ban on the use of MIT in cosmetic ‘leave-on’ products, such as deodorants and creams, came into force in February 2017. Meanwhile, a lower limit of MIT from 0.01% to 0.0015% in ‘rinse-off’ products, such as shampoo and soap, will be implemented from 28 April.

The substance has been also restricted in toys for children under three years and toys intended to come into the mouth since November last year.

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