What is REACH?
The EU Regulation, REACH, (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) came into force on 1st June 2007 and aims to improve the protection human health and the environment through the better understanding of hazardous properties of substances. REACH requires EU manufacturers and importers to collect information on the properties of the substances they supply to the EU in quantities of over 1 tonne per year, which will allow their safe handling, and submit that information to the European Chemicals Agency in the form of a registration dossier the deadline for which depends on the annual tonnage and hazard classification. The provisions of REACH will be phased in over 11 years during which time substances which are found to be of particular concern will be substituted when suitable, less dangerous, alternatives have been identified. Information submitted at registration will be uploaded onto a public database which will allow users of substances to find hazard information on those substances to help control possible risks.
REACH applies to all chemical substances, including metals, which are manufactured, imported, placed on the market or used within the European Community, either on their own, in a preparation (such as an alloy) or in an article. It has implications for producers, importers, formulators, distributors and users of chemicals, as well as those producing and/or importing articles.
What are the aims of REACH?
The fundamental aim of REACH is to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment as well as the free movement of substances, on their own, in preparations and in articles, while enhancing competitiveness and innovation. REACH assumes that the companies producing and supplying substances are best placed to investigate the properties, and manage any risks associated with the use, of the substances they supply.
No data, no market rule
REACH requires companies, supplying substances in the EU, to register those substances, with a set of information on their properties, with the European Chemicals Agency; the level of data required is proportionate to the amount of substance supplied. Companies who fail to submit the information required at registration, by the required timescales, will lose their EU market for those substances. Continuing to supply a substance in the EU that is not REACH-registered, by the required deadline, will be illegal and companies doing so will be subject to national enforcement.
Scope and exemptions
REACH applies to all substances, whether on their own (including ‘pure’ metals), in preparations (including alloys) or in articles (where the substance will be released under normal conditions of use), supplied to the EU in quantities of more than one tonne, per supplier, per year.
Certain substances (including radioactive substances, non-isolated intermediates, substances that are subject to customs supervision, waste, and some low hazard naturally occurring substances) are exempt from REACH while others (including isolated intermediates and substances for product and process orientated research and development) have more specific requirements. On the other hand, some substances (including those used in feeding stuffs, cosmetics, plant protection products and biocides, and substances used in medicinal products and devices) are covered by more specific legislation and have tailored provisions.