REACH is the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006). It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of CHemical substances. The law entered into force on 1 June 2007. It will be implemented over the next 11 years and is designed to:
- Provide a high level of protection to human health and the environment
- Enhance the competitiveness of the European chemical industry and encourage innovation
Under REACH all chemicals made in or imported into the EU in quantities of greater than one ton per year must undergo a process of registration, evaluation and authorization for use. Some chemicals, those of low hazard or that are regulated by other legislation, are exempted from REACH.
The use of substances that cause cancer, infertility in men and women, genetic mutations, birth defects and those which are persistent and accumulate in our bodies or the environment will be subject to authorization and potentially also restriction. Restriction may be imposed on any substance on its own, in a preparation or in an article on a community wide basis if its use poses an unacceptable risk to health or the environment.
The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) publishes the list for the substances candidate for authorization. New candidates are added at regular intervals.