Cobalt-free humidity indicator cards

In 1998, the European Community (EC) issued a directive which classifies items containing cobalt(II) chloride of 0.01 to 1% w/w as T (Toxic), with the corresponding R phrase of R49 (may cause cancer if inhaled). As a consequence, new cobalt-free humidity indicator cards have been developed by some companies.

Although the EC issued this directive, it did not ban humidity indicators that contain cobalt(II) chloride.The only effect the EC directive has on a humidity indicator card that contains cobalt(II) chloride is setting labeling requirement thresholds. There are two way of considering the EC directive:

  1. The cobalt based HIC producers says that if a humidity indicator is considered an article in the EC definition and therefore has no labeling requirements if the content of cobalt(II) chloride by weight is <0.25%. The T (toxic) and R49 (may cause cancer if inhaled) is not applicable because a humidity indicator cannot be inhaled.

  2. On the other hand, if you consider HIC as a chemical (indicating spot) on a paper card (indicator) the consequence is that it should be considered as a preparation, the concentration limit changes to 0.01% weight of cobalt(II) chloride, and it should be labeled as T (toxic) and R49 (may cause cancer if inhaled). Moreover, it is clear that the HIC can not be inhaled, but the regulation is about the content of substances and is a warning for users: e.g. if they know that there are harmful substances in the HIC, they will not dispose of them by burning.