The European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) plans to include lead in all its forms in the list of substances subject to authorisation (Appendix XIV of the REACH Regulation). This would have a major impact on the conservation of cultural heritage, particularly stained glass, from historic medieval to modern stained glass.
Our attention has been drawn to the draft recommendation for lead to be included in Annex XIV of the authorisation list by our colleagues at ICOMOS. We share their concerns about the potential adverse impact of this proposal on the conservation of cultural heritage and we echo their call for the use of lead in conservation practice to be exempted from onerous and unnecessary control processes.
We have consulted with our members and with other colleagues working in conservation practice in the UK.
The role of conservators is to care for all aspects of historic buildings and their decorative fixtures; repairing, and sometimes restoring, elements as needed. In order to fulfill this task conservators and associated professionals must be able to work with lead without hindrance from disproportionate or punitive bureaucracy and regulation.
The proposed change in the REACH regulations poses a particular challenge for stained-glass conservators, who are represented by Icon's Stained-Glass Group. These skilled professionals handle lead on a daily basis and are already competent to ensure that this work is carried out safely and with minimum risks to their health.
You can read our full consultation response here: