REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals.It applies to all chemicals not only those used in industrial processes but also those found in products which we use in our daily lives, such as cleaning products and paints, or in articles such as clothes, furniture and electrical appliances.
REACH places responsibility on industry to manage the risks that chemicals, or consumer articles, may pose to public health and to the environment. Most REACH requirements apply directly to manufacturers and importers, who must register substances (either pure, or those classified as mixtures) by supplying data on the properties of their chemicals. They are also obliged under REACH to develop chemical safety assessments and implement risk management measures. REACH requires manufacturers and importers to notify the European regulatory authorities about the use of hazardous substances. REACH may then put these substances under authorization.
Evaluation: Experts from member states and the European Agency evaluate safety data for higher volume chemicals and other chemicals of concern. ECHA and the Member States evaluate the information submitted by companies to examine the quality of the registration dossiers and the testing proposals and to clarify if a given substance constitutes a risk to human health or the environment
Authorization: Chemicals that are of every high concern are to be phased out and replaced with safer alternative chemicals. The authorisation procedure aims to assure that the risks from Substances of Very High Concern are properly controlled and that these substances are progressively replaced by suitable alternatives while ensuring the good functioning of the EU internal market.
Restriction of CHemicals: Chemicals may be completely banned or some uses of the chemicals can be restricted. Restrictions are a tool to protect human health and the environment from unacceptable risks posed by chemicals. Restrictions may limit or ban the manufacture, placing on the market or use of a substance.
REACH has several aims:
- To provide a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the use of chemicals.
- To make the people who place chemicals on the market (manufacturers and importers responsible for understanding and managing the risks associated with their use.)
- To allow the free movement of substances on the EU market.
- To enhance innovation in and the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry.
- To promote the use of alternative methods for the assessment of the hazardous properties of substances e.g. quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) and read across.
Scope and exemptions
REACH applies to substances manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities of 1 tonne or more per year. Generally, it applies to all individual chemical substances on their own, in preparations or in articles (if the substance is intended to be released during normal and reasonably foreseeable conditions of use from an article).
Some substances are specifically excluded:
- Radioactive substances
- Substances under customs supervision
- The transport of substances
- Non-isolated intermediates
- Some naturally occurring low-hazard substances
Some substances, covered by more specific legislation, have tailored provisions, including:
- Human and veterinary medicines
- Food and foodstuff additives
- Plant protection products and biocides
Other substances have tailored provisions within the REACH legislation, as long they are used in specified conditions:
- Isolated intermediates
- Substances used for research and development