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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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REACH to enhance EU chemicals industry

The new European Chemicals regulation, Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) was adopted in December 2006. The REACH Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 and Directive 2006/121/EC amending Directive 67/548/EEC were published in the Official Journal on December 30, 2006.

REACH came into force on June 1, 2007. Enterprises, which manufacture or import more than one ton of a chemical substance/article per year, will be required to register it in a central database administered by the new EU Chemicals Agency. The Agency will provide IT tools and guidance and Member States will offer help desk assistance to the impacted companies.

The new Regulation aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment while maintaining competitiveness and enhancing the innovative capability of the EU chemicals industry. REACH will give greater responsibility to the industry to manage the risks from chemicals and provide safety information that will be passed down the supply chain.

REACH is a radical step forward in the EU chemicals management. The onus will move from the authorities to industry. In addition, REACH will allow the further evaluation of substances where there are grounds for concern and foresees an authorisation system for the use of substances of very high concern.

This applies to substances and articles that cause cancer, infertility, genetic mutations or birth defects, and to those which are persistent and accumulate in the environment.

The Authorisation system will require companies to switch progressively to safer alternatives where a suitable alternative exists. All applications for an authorisation need to include an analysis of alternatives and a substitution plan where a suitable alternative exists.

Current use restrictions will remain under the REACH system. REACH also ensures that animal testing is kept to the strict minimum and that alternative methods are encouraged.

REACH will require a registration, over 11 years of some 30.000 chemical substances. The registration process requires the manufacturers and importers to generate data for all chemicals substances/articles produced or imported into the EU above one ton per year.

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