Jerry H. Yen
Analyst 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. Some U.S. chemical industry representatives believe that REACH is “impractical,” in part due to the large number of chemicals and difficulties of identifying end uses of chemicals in many products. In contrast, some public-interest groups are urging U.S. legislators to adopt a similar legislative approach.
Date of Report: October 23, 2013
Number of Pages: 7
Order Number: RS22673
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