Newsletter February 2018

12 February 2018

12 February 2018


As Chair of the EHS Group I would like to commend to you this the second edition of our occasional newsletter.  It is designed to inform recipients about the activities carried out by your fellow active members. The purpose of this newsletter is to brief readers about the ongoing issues with which the Group is involved and to provide a catalyst for feedback and stimulus to encourage wider involvement by members.

As you will see this edition concentrates on Group activities in connection with:

  • The UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum – David Taylor represents SCI on the Forum
  • British, European and International standards. Such activities have been an important aspect of the Group since the foundation of an environment group several decades ago.

If you feel that you want to expand your own involvement in these areas or have information about topics that could widen the Group’s activity, then please contact the Secretary through the published SCI channels. SCI representatives on standards bodies can usually supply copies of draft standards.

Tim White
EHS Group Chair



  1. The UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum
  2. Forthcoming event - Driving innovation in Water & Waste Analysis Methods
  3. Environment Medal awarded to Prof. Stephen Nortcliff
  4. SCI and Environmental Standards
  5. ISO TC190 – Soil quality
  6. ISO TC147 – Water quality Meeting, Edinburgh, 2018
  7. BS ISO 18400 Soil sampling standards
  8. PD ISO/TR 19588:2017 Environmental Cyanide Analysis
  9. Standards under development
  10. EHS Group Contact Links

1. The UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum

Regulations relating to the management of chemicals are of key importance to the chemical industry. This forum is a key part of the interaction between UK government and all those involved with chemicals from the beginning to the end of the supply chain. SCI is a member of the Chemicals Stakeholder Forum and is represented by Dr David Taylor, a member of the SCI Environment, Health and Safety Group Committee.

The Forum was originally established by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Meacher, in September 2000 and it has continued to meet four times a year ever since. Its original purpose was to promote the voluntary substitution or elimination of very hazardous substances, particularly those that were persistent (P), bio accumulative (B) and toxic (T), being used by UK companies. Currently, its principal function is to advise the Government on how industry should reduce the risks from hazardous chemicals to the environment and to human health through the environment. In addition, the Forum has an advisory role to Government on REACH, which is the main EU Regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (adopted in December 2006). The current Terms of Reference of the Forum are shown below.


The purpose of the Forum is to advise Government on managing risks to the environment and to human health via the environment that may result from the production, distribution and use of chemicals.  Recognising the changing circumstances in which chemicals are regulated, the Forum aims to be a strategic body, paying due regard to the promotion of sustainable consumption and production throughout the chemicals supply chain, to the life cycle of chemicals, to the precautionary principle, and to the need to add value and not replicate activities undertaken elsewhere.

In particular it will:

  • review the effectiveness of REACH in realising its goals in the light of the experience and needs of UK stakeholders;
  • review the effectiveness of the UK Competent Authority in delivering its obligations under REACH, and engage it in an on-going dialogue to reflect stakeholder views and concerns;
  • advise Government on measures to promote the sound management of chemicals internationally;
  • continue to promote voluntary action by industry in the UK where this can contribute to a reduction in the overall use of those substances recognised by the Forum as being priorities for action;
  • communicate and encourage best practice and innovation, and encourage others to do so;
  • promote more effective linkages throughout the chemicals supply chain, and between all those with an interest in the future of a sustainable and competitive UK chemicals industry.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs provides the Secretariat for the Forum which has an independent Chairman. Membership is by invitation and is drawn from industry, environmental and animal protection and conservation non-governmental organisations, trade unions, and the scientific community. A list of the current member organisations is shown in the box.

The Forum is very transparent in its operation, meetings are open to the public, usually attended by the specialist press, and papers and minutes for the meetings are published on the Forum website at:

British Association for Chemical Specialities
British Coatings Federation
British Plastics Federation
British Retail Consortium
Chemical Business Association
Chemical Industries Association
Chemicals, Health & Environment Monitoring (CHEM) Trust
Cruelty Free International
Environmental Services Association
Federation of Small Businesses
Green Chemistry Network
Knowledge Transfer Network
National Federation of Women’s Institutes
Non-Ferrous Alliance
Royal Society of Chemistry
Society of Chemical Industry
Tech UK
Trades Union Congress
UK Business Council for Sustainable Development
UK Cleaning Products Industry Association

The Forum is unique: its wide membership and transparent operating procedures ensure it can explore the views of the many sectors of society who work with, or are concerned about, industrial chemicals. Although organised via the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs it can draw on advice, and support, from other Government Departments and bodies, such as the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Health and Safety Executive (who are the UK REACH Competent Authority), and the Environment Agency. The Forum is also able to draw on scientific advice from the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee.

The Forum’s work has changed over the last decade.  It is no longer involved in the detailed assessment of hazardous chemicals used or imported into the UK. This activity has largely been taken over by the EU REACH Regulation administered by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. The Forum’s activities today are focussed on the implementation of the REACH regulation and increasingly on the strategic objective of promoting sustainability in the chemicals supply chain.

In recent years the Forum has also produced guidance documents, aimed at SMEs, on various aspects of REACH such as authorisation and the 2018 registration process. In addition, as part of its activities relating to sustainability, it has produced a Guide to Substitution and an Introduction to the Concept of Chemical Services.

It is anticipated that post BREXIT, the Forum will make a significant contribution to the UKs interactions with global chemical regulations such as the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and the development of new international initiatives such as the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and its successors.


2. Driving innovation in Water & Waste Analysis Methods

SCI, London, UK, 13 – 14 March 2018

The Standing Committee of Analysts brings together analysts, quality managers, regulators, instrument manufacturers and laboratory customers to explore the methodologies relevant to the 21st century laboratory, whatever sector they are from. These methods ensure quality and consistency in the chemical and microbiological analysis of water, waste water, soils, and are typically the methods prescribed by industry regulators. 
This two-day event gives water, waste and soils analysis laboratories a clearer understanding of future regulation. The SCA, with continued industry support, will provide the methods needed to meet the challenges current and future regulation presents.

  • Sampling needs in the modern environment 
  • Agricultural soils and contaminated land analysis 
  • Use and development of scanning/screening methods 
  • Use of speciation for Cryptosporidium Typing
  • Increasing use of regulatory on-line monitoring 
  • Data Compatibility Issues 

3. Environment Medal - Is it Possible to Measure Soil Quality?

SCI’s Environment Medal was awarded to Prof. Stephen Nortcliff at a meeting held at Belgrave Square on 28 November 2017.

Stephen Nortcliff is Emeritus Professor of Soil Science at the University of Reading having retired as Professor of Soil Science in 2011 after 33 years at the University of Reading. He has been actively involved in the development of British Standards as a member of the BSI’s Technical Committees on Soil Quality and Topsoil and Growing Media, Chairing the Soil Quality Committee from its inception in 1986 to 2003. He took an active role in the development of the Soil Action Plan for Defra between 2004 and 2006 and the European Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection for the European Commission between 2003 and 2006. He was Secretary General for the International Union of Soil Science between 2003 and 2010.

Award of the Environment Medal was followed by a presentation from Stephen entitled - Is it Possible to Measure Soil Quality?

Over the last three decades, Soil Scientists have spent a great deal of time seeking to derive quantitative measures of soil quality, to highlight the value of soil to society and to stress the need for soil protection. Progress has been slow because soil scientists have failed to agree on what should be the criteria used in the determination. Stephen briefly reviewed the developments in the attempts to establish measures of soil quality and questioned whether these efforts have made any significant contribution to increasing the protection and sustainable management of soils. While soil scientists may think they have made progress in this area, questions still need to be asked:

  • Has there been any impact beyond the Soil Science community?
  • Is a single measure of soil quality possible?
  • Do attempts to derive a single soil quality measure undermine the value of such approaches?

Stephen Nortcliff also discussed recent developments in quantifying soil quality, including the concept of ecosystem services.

4. SCI and Environmental Standards

An important Group activity has always been participation in the development of British, European and International standards. Members of the Group represent SCI on a number of BSI committees and also represent the UK on many CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) and ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) Technical Committees and the associated Working and Task Groups. Often, it is only the financial support given by SCI towards travel costs etc. to supplement the limited contribution made by BSI that ensures that the UK is represented at many of these key meetings.

Currently the Group represents SCI on the following BSI committees:

BSI EH4 Soil Quality - Mike Smith, K. Clive Thompson & Tim White

BSI EH3 and its sub-committees - Water Quality - Tim White & K. Clive Thompson

BSI EH5 Sludge Quality – K. Clive Thompson

BSI AW/020 AW/020 “Topsoil, other growing media and turf " - K. Clive Thompson

Through BSI EH4, Mike Smith and K. Clive Thompson represent the UK on ISO TC190 (Soil quality),
CEN TC345 (Soil quality) and CEN TC444 (Environmental standards, e.g. for soils and wastes); and various of their Working and Task Groups.

Through BSI EH3 and its Sub-committees, K. Clive Thompson and Tim White represent the UK on ISO TC147 (Water quality), CEN/TC 230 Water Quality and various of their Working Groups.

Through BSI EH5, K. Clive Thompson represents the UK on ISO TC275 Sludge quality

Through BSI AW/020 AW/020, K. Clive Thompson represents the UK on CEN/TC 223 "Soil improvers and growing media"  

In the past SCI representatives have made a very significant contribution on behalf of the UK to the development ISO 14000 series of standards and also a wide range of other standards such as COD, cyanide speciation analysis, arsenic speciation analysis and a number of on-site soil screening methods.


5. ISO TC190 –Soil quality

ISO Technical Committee 190 (TC190) Soil quality was formed about 30 years ago. It produces standards relating to terminology, sampling, chemical analysis, biological testing, physical testing and soil and site assessment.
Since its formation about thirty years ago the Secretariat and Chair of TC190 have been provided by the Dutch standards organisation (NEN) with financial support from the Dutch government. However the German national standards body (DIN) will take over the Secretariat early in 2018. The TC190 structure will be simplified by reducing the number of Sub-committees from four to three.

6. ISO TC147 –Water Quality meeting, Edinburgh, 2018

In 2018 the next plenary meeting of ISO TC 147 Water Quality will be held in Edinburgh.  It is anticipated that there will be significant support from the Scottish Government in providing facilities for the meeting.  SCI members will take an active role in organising the meeting ensuring that the UK delegation are fully briefed on emerging technical issues surrounding the development and maintenance of the 300 standards under the management of the committee.   It is expected that there will be approximately 150 delegates attending from the 43 participating and 47 observer nations.  EHS Group members will take every opportunity promote the aims and values of SCI at this and all other standards events.

7. BS ISO 18400 Soil sampling standards published

The first seven members of the BS ISO 18400 Soil quality - Sampling series were published in April 2017. They complement the guidance in BS10175 on the investigation of potentially contaminated sites but also cover other sites where soil sampling might be required including natural, near-natural and agricultural sites. Topics covered by the new standards are: selection and application 0of sampling techniques (-102), safety (-103), the preparation of a sampling plan (-101), QA/QC (-106), sample handling (-105), preparation of sampling reports (-107) and pretreatment of samples on site (-201).
A new version of BS 10175, amended to take account of the publication of the new standards, was published in December. The preparation of the Amendment was led by Mike Smith. Consideration is being given as to whether a full revision of BS 10175 is required.
There are a further six standards in preparation including on sampling strategies (-104); preliminary investigations (-202); sampling of natural, near-natural and agricultural sites (-205), and sampling for biological testing (-206). ISO 18400-204 (Soil gas) and ISO 18400-203 (Potentially contaminated sites) will not be adopted as British Standards because they overlap with BS 8576 (investigations for ground gas) and BS 10175 respectively. 
Mike Smith is the ISO Project Leader for a number of the BS ISO 18400 series of standards: -102, -103, -104, -105, -201, -202, -203 and -205.

8. PD ISO/TR 19588:2017 Environmental Cyanide Analysis

Preparation of this recently published guidance document was led by Clive Thompson.

Cyanide is a useful industrial chemical and its key role in the mining industry is to extract gold from its ores. Worldwide, mining uses approximately 13 % of the total production of manufactured hydrogen cyanide while the remaining 87 % is used in many other industrial processes, apart from mining. In manufacturing, cyanide is used to make paper, textiles, and plastics. It is present in the chemicals used to develop photographs. Cyanide salts are used in metallurgy for electroplating, metal cleaning, and removing gold from its ore. Cyanide gas (HCN) is used to exterminate pests and vermin in ships and buildings.

This new guidance document provides background information on the various International (ISO), American (ASTM, EPA), and European (CEN) cyanide methods for soils, waters, effluents and wastes. It gives guidance on how to carry out fit for purpose analysis of various forms of cyanide in environmental samples, the significance of the results, how to minimize interference effects and the preservation of samples. Some information is also provided on other national and international cyanide methods.


9. Standards under development

Standards relating to soil and site assessment under development in ISO TC190, most of which will be published early in 2018, include:

(BS) (EN) ISO DIS 11504

Impact of soil contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons


Soil & groundwater protection


Re-use of excavated soil and soil materials


Ecotoxicological characterization of soil & soil materials


Human exposure

ISO 17924

Bioavailability of metals in soil to humans


Determination of background values

ISO 21365

Conceptual site models for potentially contaminated sites

CD = Committee Draft, DIS = Draft International Standard, FDIS = Final Draft International Standard,
NWIP = New Work Item Proposal, WD = Working Draft, EN = European Standard

10. EHS Group Contact Links


Tim White:


Alan Maries:

Newsletter Coordinator

Mike Smith:

EHS Group’s Committee Support Lead

Ester Monfort:

BSI Representatives

Mike Smith:
Clive Thompson:
Tim White:


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