01 Oct 2004

Chemicals control legislation

The future of chemicals control in the EU (under which petroleum substances are regulated) has been under discussion for several years. Following the EU Commission’s White Paper on a Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy (February 2001), the Commission issued its formal legislative proposal for a Regulation on REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) on 29 October 2003.

REACH is intended to provide a new framework for the control of chemicals in the EU, replacing the Existing Substances Regulation, the Dangerous Substances Directive, the Dangerous Preparations Directive and the Limitations on Marketing and Use Directive. REACH will introduce a fundamental paradigm shift in the traditional roles that authorities and industry have assumed. In contrast to the existing EU chemicals regime in which responsibility lies with the authorities to demonstrate that a chemical poses a risk to human health or the environment, under REACH responsibility will be shifted from the authorities to industry to demonstrate that a chemical can be handled safely without endangering human health or the environment.