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REACH is the Regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It entered into force on 1st June 2007 to streamline and improve the former legislative framework on chemicals of the European Union (EU). REACH places greater responsibility on industry to manage the risks that chemicals may pose to the health and the environment.
In principle REACH applies to all chemicals: not only chemicals used in industrial processes but also in our day-to-day life, for example in cleaning products, paints as well as in articles such as clothes, furniture and electrical appliances.
The aims of REACH are to:
REACH replaces about 40 pieces of legislation with a streamlined and improved Regulation. Other legislation regulating chemicals (e.g. on cosmetics, detergents) or related legislation (e.g. on health and safety of workers handling chemicals, product safety, construction products) not replaced by REACH will continue to apply. REACH has been designed not to overlap or conflict with the other chemical legislation.
REACH makes industry bear most responsibilities to manage the risks posed by chemicals and provide appropriate safety information to their users.
In parallel, it foresees that the European Union can take additional measures on highly dangerous substances, where there is a need for complementing action at EU level.
REACH also creates the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) with a central coordination and implementation role in the overall process.
All manufacturers and importers of chemicals must identify and manage risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market. For substances produced or imported in quantities of 1 ton or more per year per company, manufacturers and importers need to demonstrate that they have appropriately done so by means of a registration dossier, which shall be submitted to the Agency.
Once the registration dossier has been received, the Agency may check that it is compliant with the Regulation and shall evaluate testing proposals to ensure that the assessment of the chemical substances will not result in unnecessary testing, especially on animals.