REACH is a European Union regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals. It came into force on 1st June 2007 and replaced a number of European Directives and Regulations with a single system.
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