Posted: July 23, 2007

To what degree does REACH (the new European law on chemicals) cover nanotechnology?

(Nanowerk News) The new European law on chemicals, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), entered into force on 1 June 2007.
A new report summarizes the contents of an event entitled "NIA Masterclass & Workshop: Micromega - REACH for Nanomaterials", held in London on May 9, 2007. The event was organised by the Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA) and involved experts in legal and managerial aspects of the EC regulation on REACH.
The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the properties of chemical substances. At the same time, innovative capability and competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry should be enhanced. The benefits of the REACH system will come gradually, as more and more substances are phased into REACH.
The REACH Regulation gives greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances. Manufacturers and importers will be required to gather information on the properties of their substances, which will help them manage them safely, and to register the information in a central database. The European Chemicals Agency will act as the central point in the REACH system: it will run the databases necessary to operate the system, co-ordinate the in-depth evaluation of suspicious chemicals and run a public database in which consumers and professionals can find hazard information.
The purpose of the Masterclass was to firstly shed light onto the past discussion around nanomaterials as part of the REACH Regulation, and to clarify their current status within the legislation that was passed by the European Parliament. The Masterclass, aimed to examine scenarios on the inclusion of nanomaterials within the REACH registration process, and to investigate subsequently the necessary potential management strategies.
Main conclusions:
The final version of the REACH Regulation, launched in December 2006 by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers does not contain provisions specific for nanomaterials, or require specific authorisation of nanomaterials; all materials, independent of their size, are subject to the same requirements, especially for preregistration and registration.
It is however, possible that nanomaterials will eventually have specific categories and corresponding procedures assigned to them within REACH, within one of the following scenarios: (a) they would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis (substance- or companyspecific), or (b) an industry-wide practical approach would be proposed and accepted by authorities.
Source: NIA
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