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Chemical Controls Come Into Force

  • June 2nd, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

eu-flag-reduced-larger8.pngThe new law for protection against potentially harmful chemicals in products has come into force (1.6.07) with manufacturers now committed to report what they use, and phase out the most dangerous items.

Under the European Union Regulation people surrounded in their daily lives by potentially hazardous chemicals — in everything from toothpaste, to computers or toiletries – will be protected from many undue risks.

The Regulation is also intended to protect the 1.9-million Europeans who work for 31 000 manufacturing companies that use chemicals, from accidents at their factories.

It is called REACH (for registration, evaluation, authorisation and restrictions on chemicals) and will be implemented through a new European Chemicals Agency, just opened, in Helsinki.

Provisions:

• All companies using listed most-dangerous substances will be required to obtain authorisation, and where the substances are to be banned, they will have to phase out their use.

• Use of other chemicals will have to be reported to the agency and will have to be noted, under existing labelling provisions.

• The information will come available to industry competitors and the general public.

Altogether 30 000 chemicals will come under regulation, in Europe’s third-largest manufacturing sector.

The European Commission has cited numerous threats linked to chemicals in products, identified in health and medical research: incidence of breast and testicular cancers, falling sperm counts in the male population, pollution and damage to the ozone layer.

The Commissioner for Environment, Stavros Dimos, said the overall effects of the regulation would not create excessive cost burdens, as it would prevent large-scale and costly productivity losses, especially time lost from work.

Industry organisations have begun working together to share their new tasks, compiling and handling information.

The Secretary General of the European Chemical Industry Council, Alain Perroy, has been stressing the benefits of the move.

“If we can demonstrate through REACH that a well-documented dossier on hazard exposure and risk is in place, we can enhance confidence in chemicals,” he said.

The agency at Helsinki has been given one year to become fully operational for its Herculean role.

The European Commission has already been calling tenders for the agency, e.g. 20.4.07 for IT tools to assist in development of chemical safety reports, and 28.4.07 for “interim services”.

Reference:

Information on REACH: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/reach/index_en.htm (2.6.07)
European Chemicals Agency: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/reach_intro.htm (2.6.07)

An eight-minute video presentation is posted on the European Union website, www.europa.eu (Commission) (2.6.07)

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