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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chemical Regulation in the European Union: Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals

Linda-Jo Schierow
Specialist in Environmental Policy

On June 1, 2007, the European Union (EU) began to implement a new law governing chemicals in EU commerce, Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). It is intended to protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals while at the same time protecting the competitiveness of European industry. REACH evolved over eight years and reflects compromises reached among EU stakeholders. The final regulation reduces and coordinates EU regulatory requirements for chemicals new to the EU market and increases collection of such information for chemicals already in the EU market, thus potentially removing disincentives to innovation that existed under the former law. It also shifts responsibility for safety assessments from government to industry and encourages substitution of less toxic for more toxic chemicals in various chemical applications. U.S. chemical industry representatives believe that REACH is "impractical." In contrast, some public-interest groups are urging U.S. legislators to adopt a similar legislative approach.

Depending on one's point of view, new chemicals legislation in the European Union (EU) is likely to vastly improve environmental and public health protections and serve as a model for future U.S. law, or it might unnecessarily burden commercial enterprises with regulations and interfere with international trade. The subject of such conjecture is a new EU law for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) in EU commerce, which went into force June 1, 2007.

Date of Report: February 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 6
Order Number:RS22673
Price: $7.95

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