REACH – an overview

REACH is an EU-wide reform of the regulatory environment in which chemicals are used. The aim is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better, and earlier, identification of the properties of chemical substances. A further benefit will be to enhance the innovative capability and competitiveness of the EU chemical industry. REACH is intended to establish an integrated system for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. It extends the stringent testing which has been required for chemicals introduced since 1981 to those already in use (estimated at 30,000 substances). The responsibility for providing sufficient information and taking effective risk management measures will lie principally with manufacturers or importers of chemicals. Obligations will also be introduced further down the supply chain particurlarly in terms of the safe use of chemicals. In force from 1st June 2007, after publication in the European Commission’s Official Journal on 30th December 2006, REACH runs to 849 pages and replaces over 40 other laws. A series of deadlines then follow around pre-registration, by December 2008, immediately followed by a published list of pre-registered substances. December 2010 will see the end of the first registration period for the most dangerous and / or higher volume substances. There is no definitive list of chemicals which are likely to be covered by REACH. Chemicals are currently covered by the EINECS (European Inventory of Existing Commercial – chemical – Substances) list of 70,000 to 100,000 chemicals subject to pre 1981 legislation. This list is clearly out of date and many of the chemicals may no longer be on the market. Chemicals subject to post 1981 legislation are covered by the EUCLID list. As mentioned, a new list will replace around 40 existing regulations. Implementation will be staggered so that the entire process will take about 11 years to complete. I will cover topics such as obligations on manufacturers and importers, downstream users and issues for the electronics industry, including the supply chain, in a future rant. If REACH has an impact on your business please drop me a line and tell me why, and what you are doing about it. DIRECTIVE DECODER

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