Thousands of chemicals unregistered ahead of EU deadline

The law was adopted to protect human health and the environment from harmful chemicals but also to shift the safety evaluation burden from authorities to companies.

Published: 16th May 2018 06:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2018 06:44 PM   |  A+A-

By AFP

HELSINKI: An EU agency on Wednesday warned that the chemicals industry has yet to register thousands of substances two weeks before the bloc's deadline which aims to boost safety regulations. 

The Helsinki-based European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said it had so far received some 20,000 of an estimated 30,000 substance registrations from companies since the EU began to implement its law on chemicals, REACH, in 2008.

The law was adopted to protect human health and the environment from harmful chemicals but also to shift the safety evaluation burden from authorities to companies.

Christel Musset, head of registrations at ECHA, told AFP she was expecting registrations to hit "a peak in the remaining two weeks," adding it was difficult to give an exact estimate on how many of them were still missing.

Musset said the final count was likely to be significantly lower than the agency's original estimation of 30,000 different substances as the registration process has forced many companies in the industry to re-evaluate and rationalise their use of substances.

Chemicals are used for a wide variety of purposes from agriculture to construction and plastic, wooden, metal or textile products.

Manufacturers and importers of chemicals are required to evaluate and, if necessary, test the safety of their substances and then present proof to ECHA by May 31. 

The cost of the documentation vary from a micro-sized company's registration fee of 65 euros to testing costs of nearly 100,000 euros (from $77 to 118,000) for possible reproductive or developmental toxicity in a large-scale chemical production.

Musset said REACH had already "raised the safety bar everywhere in the world" because manufacturers in the US and Asia are also required to submit the necessary documentation in order to import their chemicals into Europe.

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