The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) provides default worst-case release factors for water, air, and soil in their guidance documents for environmental exposure assessment under REACH. These factors allow for initial estimates of emissions, but they often result in overestimations of releases and exposure concentrations due to the diverse processes, substances, and uses they must cover. In practice, these unrealistic predictions do not aid in effective management of releases and risks.

Development of Specific Emission Release Categories (SPERCs) for metals

The Specific Environmental Release Factors (SPERCS) provide a more accurate method for assessing the environmental releases of metals and metal compounds from manufacturing, processing, and downstream uses in the EU. A database of over 1,300 (1993-2010) site-specific measured release factors for 18 different metals and their compounds from various EU member states was compiled. The metal SPERCs can be used in advanced-tier environmental safety assessments, increasing the realism of estimates while maintaining a sufficient level of conservatism. The individual SPERC fact sheets and the background document can be downloaded below. Please always refer to the version number when using SPERCs.

The first version of the metal SPERCs was published in 2010 for the 2010 REACH registration deadline and was reviewed by Lüskow et al. (2011) on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency of Germany (UBA). The second version was updated and improved based on recommendations by Lüskow et al. (2011) and Sättler et al. (2012) and was further updated with new data for the 2013 REACH registration deadline. This version underwent a scientific review process and was published in Verdonck et al (2014).

  • Sättler D, Schnöder F, Aust N, Ahrens A, Bögi C, Traas T and Tolls J. 2012, Specific environmental release categories—A tool for improving chemical safety assessment in the EC—report of a multi-stakeholder workshop. Integr Environ Assess Manag, 8: 580–585.
  • Verdonck FAM, Van Assche F, Hicks K, Mertens J, Voigt A, Verougstraete V. 2014. Development of realistic environmental release factors based on measured data: approach and lessons from the EU metal industry. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 10(4), 529-538.
  • Lüskow H, Wirth O, Reihlen A, Jepsen, D. 2010. Standardisation of Emission Factors for the Exposure Assessment under REACH. Dessau, Germany: Federal Environment Agency Germany. FKZ 363 01 300.

Download CHESAR 3 SPERC files here.

To stay informed of future updates, please provide your contact information to Dr. Frederik Verdonck at or regularly check our website.

It is important to note that other sector organizations have also developed SPERCs for metals and metal compounds. For example, the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (A.I.S.E.) has developed SPERCs for the industrial use of metal salts in conversion coating, and Catalyst Europe (ECMA) has developed a SPERC for the manufacture of metal-containing catalysts.

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Frederik Verdonck, PhD

Frederik Verdonck

Managing Director
IBERA Diplomate
+32 9 216 70 60

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