Interested in the lubricant industry in Asia?

Subscribe now to Lube Report Asia. This FREE weekly e-newsletter features breaking news and base oil price reports.

January 11, 2019

Volume 7 Issue 3

    View Printer Friendly Article Bookmark and Share

Korean Biocides Act’s Impact on Lubes Unclear

South Korea's new Act on Safety Control of Consumer Chemical Products and Biocides regulation took effect Jan. 1. Industry sources disagree about whether it sets requirements for lubricants containing biocidal ingredients.

The act requires all biocides to undergo testing to verify safety and efficacy before going on the market, the Ministry of Environment said in its Dec. 28 press release with the publication of the implementation decrees.

Known as K-BPR, the new law grants a grace period of three to 10 years to biocides already placed on the Korean market, depending on biocidal ingredient category. Disinfectants, algaecides and insecticide are offered a three-year grace period. Biocides used as preservatives are given eight years, while preservatives for material and equipment and anti-fouling agents for vessels and underwater facilities get 10 years of extra time. To take the grace period, biocides manufacturers and distributors should notify the Ministry of Environment by June 30.

Jim Eggenschwiler, an international trade attorney and director of global trade at United States law firm Redstone Group, said the new act applies to any lubricant products containing a biocidal ingredient. He told Lube Report, “Many products in the lubricants industry utilize biocidal ingredients to preserve product content during storage, and to prevent fouling of the product under certain conditions. K-BPR applies to any biocide, pesticide, fungicide, or anti-microbial ingredient used in a product, including but not limited to preservatives and anti-fouling agents.

“Failure to pre-register any of these ingredients that have been placed on the Korean market prior to Jan. 1, 2019, will close market eligibility for producers and distributors seeking to place these products in Korea after June 30, 2019.  If preregistered, qualified products will enjoy a grace period for continued market eligibility while delaying new registration of the biocide.”

The law specifically defines “products with biocides used for collateral purpose” as biocide-treated products. Manufacturers and suppliers of biocide-treated products must use approved biocidal products.

A Korean association of lubricant suppliers contended, however, that the regulations have little direct impact on lubes.

“For our industry, the thing relevant to this law would be additives in lubricants,” said Korea Lubricating Oil Industry Association executive Lim Jongchan. “But they are used in too small a quantity to be subject to the law. And the approval and registration work of chemicals are performed by additive suppliers on behalf of blenders. We haven't received any inquiries or request for help on this.” The association represents lubricants suppliers in the country and collects waste oil and packages for recycling.

Also known as K-BPR, the act was introduced to protect people and the environment from exposure to hazardous chemicals. This legislation came in the wake of a humidifier tragedy that has killed more than 100 people. The loss of life from the humidifier biocide was first reported in 2011. A government investigation established two biocidal actives in humidifier disinfectants, PHMG and PGH, as the cause of fatal lung damage.

K-BPR also covers consumer chemical products. The consumer chemical product part of the law was transferred from South Korea’s Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals – known as K-REACH – to widen the scope of application from household products to products used in public facilities and offices, Jeong Hwanjin, a ministry of environment official, told Lube Report. 

The ministry of environment designated 35 kinds of consumer chemical products – including anti-rust additives, detergents, disinfectants and adhesives – to get safety confirmation tests every three years.