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
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
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
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.