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REACH, a New Approach to Chemicals Regulation in Europe: a Brief History, Key Features, and Expected Outcomes

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The European Union has been regulating aspects of the production and use of chemicals since the late 196os. In the late 199os it was realised that this network of regulations had not resulted in the provision of adequate safety information on the chemicals used everyday in the EU, and also it did not function efficiently, for example in controlling uses of problematic substances. A review was launched, which led to the creation of the REACH - Regulation, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals"- a new integrated approach to chemical regulation in Europe. The REACH proposal obliges chemical producers to provide safety data on the substances they sell, and makes a number of other changes to chemicals management, including the creation of a new authorisation system for dealing with chemicals with properties of very high concern. The REACH proposal is now being finalised in the co-decision process, and it is currently estimated that it will enter into force in 2007.

Affiliations: 1: Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts

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