Having your products tested in a chemical testing laboratory will ensure they meet relevant standards and regulations.
However, there are different types of chemical testing and different standards depending on your specific product and shipping destination.
In this article, we'll explain the five types of chemical testing and the standards that manufacturers need to meet when shipping to international markets.
Chemical testing tells us what a certain material or product is made of. Various chemical testing methods are used across a wide range of industries to help manufacturers and suppliers ensure their products comply with regulatory safety requirements.
A chemical testing laboratory can determine how well a product performs the job that it’s designed to do, and how long it will last with normal use.
One of the main aims of chemical testing is to check the quality of materials by identifying what they are made of, and whether they contain anything that shouldn’t be there according to relevant standards, requirements, or regulations. To achieve this, you’ll need a chemical testing laboratory.
Different types of products require different types of chemical testing methods and standards, which can be defined in five ways.
|Composition Analysis||Qualitative and quantitative analysis||Identify impurities, verify conformance to a standard or specification, evaluate raw materials, identify alloys|
|Trace Contamination Detection||Foreign particles, stains, cloudiness, degradation, residues||Determine the source of contamination so it can be eliminated|
|Metals Testing||Strength, corrosion||Assurance of the purity of metals and metal alloys|
|Material Testing||polymers, plastics, metals, ceramics, paper etc.||Check quality, durability, composition|
|Regulatory Testing||Lead, phthalates and other restricted or banned substances,||Ensure products meet regulatory health and safety requirements|
Also known as elemental analysis, composition analysis can be qualitative (determining what elements are present), and quantitative (determining how much of each are present). Depending on the material being tested, a method called spectroscopy is often used to determine the chemical composition of the sample and to identify any impurities that could affect the quality of the material.
Sometimes products can become contaminated during the production process. Contamination can occur in a wide range of products, including chemicals, flexible electronics, cosmetics, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, and petroleum products. Chemical testing identifies the presence of specific contaminants, and the manufacturer can then use this information to identify and rectify the causes of contamination.
Trace contamination may be in the form of particles, cloudiness, surface residue, or trace chemicals left over from the manufacturing process.
For example, the tanning process for leather often uses chromium, but finished leather products must be free of any traces of chromium in order to comply with the EU's REACH regulations. If chromium is detected in leather samples, it could indicate that the tanning process was not done properly.
Metal testing is used to determine the composition and properties of metal and metal alloys (forged mixtures) in order to check whether samples contain any foreign metallic substances or any specific substances that shouldn’t be in the alloy.
Chemical testing for metals is usually a non-destructive process; however, alloys usually have to be broken down to determine their exact composition. The results are compared with chemical-property databases so that unmarked pure, common metals can be identified.
Testing of metal is important to ensure products made from metal will withstand normal use. For example, corrosion and durability are hugely significant in the automotive and aerospace industry.
Most products are made from a combination of materials, each of which affects the product's overall quality and durability, and may need to meet different regulatory requirements. As such, materials testing can be performed on a diverse range of materials, including but not limited to polymers, plastics, metals, ceramics, and paper.
Whatever your product, there are likely regulations in place in your destination market which require your product to be certified as meeting consumer protection laws as well as health and safety standards. Chemical testing on hardlines and softlines to ensure compliance with those regulations gives you an assurance that your products won’t be rejected or recalled when they reach the intended market.
Almost all products intended for international markets must be tested by accredited laboratories to ensure they meet health and safety regulatory requirements to protect consumers and the environment.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is an American professional association which has produced around 600 codes and standards covering many technical areas, such as fasteners, plumbing fixtures, elevators, pipelines, power plant systems, and components. ASME standards are voluntary, but are used in more than 100 countries and can be legally binding if included in a contract.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published 22,595 international standards to ensure quality, safety, and efficiency in almost every industry. Although ISO standards are not mandatory, they are widely recognized worldwide and are instrumental in facilitating international trade.
The European Commission’s regulation and compliance directive REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals) lists a wide range of substances which are banned or tightly restricted in products sold in Europe. The long list of harmful chemicals in certain types of products is regularly updated. It includes but is not limited to the following:
Here is a full list of substances restricted by REACH
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)
REACH puts very tight restrictions on extremely toxic substances which are listed separately as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs). These chemicals come under the following categories:
The limit for the amount of SVHCs in all product types is 0.1% w/w (0.1% of total product weight), which effectively bans their use.
This is the REACH SVHC list.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals that contain at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom and are used in many everyday products, including food packaging, cosmetics, textiles, and construction materials. While PFAS are prized for their properties like water resistance and chemical inertness, they have also been linked to serious health issues and environmental pollution. As a result, many governments and consumer protection agencies worldwide have taken steps to regulate and even eliminate the use of PFAS. In the EU, for instance, several PFAS are already banned or restricted under regulations such as REACH and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. In the US, although there is currently no federal ban on PFAS, over 100 laws have been enacted in 24 states (as of April 2023), with many scientists, lawmakers, and advocacy groups calling for stronger actions to mitigate the risks posed by these chemicals.
RoHS is a set of EU regulations that restricts the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. This directive bans any product having an electrical/electronic component containing more than thresholds set for lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants from being placed on the EU market.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) governs the US. The act imposes restrictions on various chemicals and toxic substances, particularly lead and phthalates, in most consumer products, especially those designed for children under 12 years old.
The use of lead in paint and other surface coatings is limited to 90 ppm and 100 ppm in substrates, requiring compulsory third-party testing by accredited laboratories for lead in products such as metallic jewelry, cribs, bicycles, and bicycle helmets.
If your manufacturer is located in another country, you must make sure you have control over the manufacturing process. Chemical testing helps you guard against your manufacturer using inferior or illegal materials that could degrade the overall quality of your product.
If your product is contaminated with stains or unknown debris, you need to use chemical testing to quickly find out and rectify the cause of the contamination.
QIMA labs are accredited and certified to perform chemical testing on a wide range of product types, including:
Our chemical testing standards provide you with the certification you need to qualify your products as meeting international quality and safety regulations.
QIMA operates all over the world.
Contact us here for an instant and transparent quote for your chemical testing needs.
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