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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Press release18 April 2018Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs1 min read

New restriction on methanol in car windscreen washing fluids

Restriction on methanol in car windscreen washing fluids

This limitation applies to concentrations of methanol equal to or greater than 0,6 % by weight. The aim of restriction is to reduce the incidence of severe methanol poisoning following deliberate misuse of windshield washing fluids and defrosting fluids containing methanol by chronic alcoholics and sporadically by non-alcoholics (e.g. binge drinking in adolescents), who use them as a cheap substitute for consumable alcohol.

A number of EU countries reported poisonings resulting from consumption of methanol containing products, with 2 of them particularly affected. One of them recorded approximately 25 methanol-related deaths per year during the 1996-2012 period, mostly caused by ingestion of windshield washing fluids.

The European Chemicals Agency considers a 0,6 % methanol concentration in windscreen washing or defrosting fluids to be protective against both methanol-induced blindness and death. The EU-wide limitation is needed not only for health protection purposes but also to avoid any distortions of the EU market for products containing methanol. However, EU countries may maintain any existing and more severe restrictions for methanol in other products than windshield washing and defrosting fluids.

The limitation was adopted following the restriction procedure under the REACH Regulation. It will enter into force on the 20th day after its publication in the 'Official Journal of the European Union'. The restriction shall be binding one year after the date on which the Regulation enters into force.