REACH: making chemicals safer

REACH: making chemicals safer
© Andy Schultz - flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

For the last ten years, the EU law on making chemicals safer has significantly improved the protection of human health and the environment whilst promoting alternatives to animal testing.

The European Commission has today (5 March) proposed actions to further facilitate the law on making chemicals safer.

With chemicals being essential to our everyday lives, be it at work or in consumer goods etc. certain substances pose risks to human health and the environment. The REACH review published today shows that the Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) works, as EU companies and authorities are ensuring the safe use of chemicals and the phase-out of dangerous chemicals.

Commissioner for Internal Market and Industry, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, said: “REACH is the most advanced and comprehensive chemical legislation in the worlds, and many other jurisdictions have followed the EU’s lead in regulating chemicals. EU industry now makes chemicals safer for citizens and the environment. We need to build on this success and ensure that EU manufacturers do not face competitive disadvantages compared to non-EU manufacturers, notably by making sure that imported goods comply with EU rules on chemicals.”

Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries said: “A majority of Europeans are worried about being exposed to hazardous chemicals. Through REACH, the EU is successfully addressing their concerns.”

How does REACH deliver?

Within Europe, REACH delivers concrete results to Europeans with:

  • Safer products for consumers, workers and the environment – through REACH, the EU has made progress in restricting/banning the use of certain chemicals that may be harmful to health and the environment;
  • Banning harmful chemicals – restrictions have been issued for different groups of substances;
  • Replacing the most dangerous substances with safe alternatives – currently, 181 chemicals that can have serious effects on health and the environment have been identified, 43 of these are included in the ‘REACH authorisation list’, which means companies need authorisation to use them;
  • Non-animal testing – REACH promotes alternative, non-animal methods for the hazard assessment of chemicals, which reduce the need for tests on animals; and
  • A comprehensive data set for chemical safety on the EU Single Market – the REACH registration procedure has gathered information on more than 17,000 substances. This has improved communication and transparency in the supply chain.

The European Commission will discuss the outcome and follow-up actions of the second REACH review with the European Parliament, member states and stakeholders at a public conference, planned for June 2018.

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