Substances which carry the following risk phrases potentially pose a risk:
R39 – Danger of very serious irreversible effects
R40 – Limited evidence of carcinogenic effects
R45 – May cause cancer
R46 – May cause heritable genetic damage
R49 – May cause cancer by inhalation
R61 – May cause harm to the unborn child
R63 – Possible risk of harm to the unborn child
R64 – May cause harm to breastfed babies
R68 – Possible risk of irreversible effects
The actual risk to health of these substances can only be determined following a risk assessment of a particular substance at the place of work, i.e. although the substances listed may have the potential to endanger health or safety, there may be no risk in practice, if exposure is below a level which might cause harm.
Since these substances have the potential to cause heritable genetic damage, the COSHH risk assessment in the case of women who are pregnant or have recently given birth should address these risks.
The strategy for control of exposure to chemicals should be:
(a) Avoidance i.e. getting someone else to work with the material, or suspending its use until an appropriate time
(b) Substitution i.e. considering whether use of alternatives are possible
(c) Limitation of Exposure i.e. limiting extent of use but at the same time readdressing control measures (engineering controls and/or use of PPE)