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What is REACH?

REACH is the Regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It entered into force on 1st June 2007 to streamline and improve the former legislative framework on chemicals of the European Union (EU). REACH places greater responsibility on industry to manage the risks that chemicals may pose to the health and the environment.

In principle REACH applies to all chemicals: not only chemicals used in industrial processes but also in our day-to-day life, for example in cleaning products, paints as well as in articles such as clothes, furniture and electrical appliances.


The aims of REACH are to:

  • Improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals

  • Enhance the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry, a key sector for the economy of the EU

  • Promote alternative methods for the assessment of hazards of substances

  • Ensure the free circulation of substances on the internal market of the European Union


REACH replaces about 40 pieces of legislation with a streamlined and improved Regulation. Other legislation regulating chemicals (e.g. on cosmetics, detergents) or related legislation (e.g. on health and safety of workers handling chemicals, product safety, construction products) not replaced by REACH will continue to apply. REACH has been designed not to overlap or conflict with the other chemical legislation.

How will REACH work?

REACH makes industry bear most responsibilities to manage the risks posed by chemicals and provide appropriate safety information to their users.

In parallel, it foresees that the European Union can take additional measures on highly dangerous substances, where there is a need for complementing action at EU level.

REACH also creates the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) with a central coordination and implementation role in the overall process.

All manufacturers and importers of chemicals must identify and manage risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market. For substances produced or imported in quantities of 1 tonne or more per year per company, manufacturers and importers need to demonstrate that they have appropriately done so by means of a registration dossier, which shall be submitted to the Agency.

Once the registration dossier has been received, the Agency may check that it is compliant with the Regulation and shall evaluate testing proposals to ensure that the assessment of the chemical substances will not result in unnecessary testing, especially on animals.

Where appropriate, authorities may also select substances for a broader substance evaluation to further investigate substances of concern.

REACH also foresees an authorisation system aiming to ensure that substances of very high concern are adequately controlled, and progressively substituted by safer substances or technologies or only used where there is an overall benefit for society of using the substance. These substances will be prioritised and over time included in Annex XIV. Once they are included, industry will have to submit applications to the Agency on authorisation for continued use of these substances. In addition, EU authorities may impose restrictions on the manufacture, use or placing on the market of substances causing an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.

Manufacturers and importers must provide their downstream users with the risk information they need to use the substance safely. This will be done via the classification and labelling system and Safety Data Sheets (SDS), where needed.

Substances can be exempted from all or a part of the obligations under REACH. These exemptions are not described in detail in this part of the web-site (About REACH). More information on exemptions can be found when using the navigator. Companies are strongly advised to use the navigator to find out if their substance is covered by an exemption under REACH.






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