REACh image

REACh is a European Union regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals. It came into force on 1st June 2007 and replaced a number of European Directives and Regulations with a single system.


REACh has several aims:

  • To provide a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the use of chemicals.
  • To make the people who place chemicals on the market (manufacturers and importers responsible for understanding and managing the risks associated with their use.)
  • To allow the free movement of substances on the EU market.
  • To enhance innovation in and the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry.
  • To promote the use of alternative methods for the assessment of the hazardous properties of substances e.g. quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) and read across.

Scope and exemptions

REACh applies to substances manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities of 1 tonne or more per year. Generally, it applies to all individual chemical substances on their own, in preparations or in articles (if the substance is intended to be released during normal and reasonably foreseeable conditions of use from an article).

Some substances are specifically excluded:

  • Radioactive substances
  • Substances under customs supervision
  • The transport of substances
  • Non-isolated intermediates
  • Waste
  • Some naturally occurring low-hazard substances

Some substances, covered by more specific legislation, have tailored provisions, including:

  • Human and veterinary medicines
  • Food and foodstuff additives
  • Plant protection products and biocides
  • Isolated intermediates
  • Substances used for research and development
  • COSHH and REACH sit side-by-side. Both of them call for risk assessment.

The main obligations

Who must assess risk? The employer The manufacturer or importer, mostly
What substances? Hazardous to health, including those arising from processes and germs Manufactured or imported in quantities of 10 or more tonnes per year in the EU
What duty? Control exposure in all uses by site and process-specific measures Develop exposure scenarios and identify ‘Risk Management Measures' for named tasks and procedures


For further information:

This Crown material has been used under the terms of the

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

Other sources of information:

Last Updated: 06/03/2017
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