Posted: June 5, 2008

REACH pre-registration phase begins

(Nanowerk News) Following its official launch on June 1, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has started to accept pre-registrations of chemicals under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) legislation. The 200 staff working at the agency have a mammoth task ahead of them, given that some 200,000 pre-registrations are expected.
REACH is designed to cut health risks associated with everyday chemicals by requiring companies to register safety information with the ECHA, and if necessary to substitute dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives.
The legislation, which covers some 30,000 chemicals, no longer differentiates between existing and new chemicals, obliging all chemicals on the market to undergo rigorous testing. Before REACH, there was a general lack of knowledge regarding 99% of the chemicals - around 100,000 substances - that were placed on the market before 1981. Prior to that date, no stringent health and safety tests were needed to market chemicals.
Between now and December 1, 2008, companies that make or import more than one tonne of chemical substances per year will be encouraged to pre-register these chemicals online via the REACH-IT portal. The agency is expected to handle a staggering 200,000 pre-registrations overall.
The pre-registration phase is meant to help companies identify and get in touch with other companies that are planning to register the same substance, giving them to sufficient time to set up a Substance Information Exchange Forum (SIEF). In a SIEF, companies are obliged to share animal testing studies to reduce to an absolute minimum the number of animals used for testing.
Following the pre-registration phase, companies will have until December 1, 2010 for the final registration and market authorisation of all substances produced or imported in quantities equal to or greater than 1,000 tonnes a year. Meanwhile, companies that import or produce smaller amounts of chemicals - approximately one tonne or more a year - will have until June 2018 to register these substances.
Speaking at the ECHA's official launch, Commission President José Manuel Barroso had some rallying words for the agency's staff. 'I am increasingly convinced that you have a fascinating, but a difficult task lying ahead of you. I am sure that the Agency will be the focus which will permit Europeans to work together to achieve the important aims of REACH,' he said.
'At the same time, I count on the Agency to give the necessary assistance to those outside Europe who wish to join with us and ask for our advice and support. These are challenging tasks. But I am confident that with the support of the Commission, Member States and stakeholders, the Agency will succeed. Indeed, I look forward to coming back on a future occasion to toast to your success,' he added.
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Source: Cordis
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