In 2007, over 40 pieces of European chemicals legislation were replaced by a single law, REACH. The aim was to improve human health and the environment, encourage innovation and keep the EU’s chemical industry competitive.
REACH was ambitious placing the burden of proof on individual companies to ensure that their chemicals can be safely used.
Over 15 000 chemicals have been registered with ECHA, each registration providing data on the effects of that chemical on human health and the environment. That data is available on ECHA’s website. Over 170 of those substances have been identified as substances of very high concern, and 31 of them now require prior authorisation before they can be used. The use of 64 chemicals has been restricted.
There is one further registration deadline for companies making and importing chemicals to register them - on 31 May 2018. This deadline is for the least hazardous substances and those produced or imported in the smallest volumes for which information regarding a further 25 000 chemicals is anticipated.
REACH does not end in 2018 and the regulatory work will continue keeping registrations up to date, dossiers and substances being evaluated and the risks of the most dangerous chemicals continuing to be managed.