REACH to Require Chemical Substitutions

During a meeting held Nov. 30, 2006, environmental regulators and the European Parliament came to a compromise regarding the proposed Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) plan requiring the registration and authorization of over 30,000 chemicals in Europe.

According to reports, the parliament wanted to make it mandatory for companies producing or importing hazardous chemicals--so-called persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances--to use safer alternatives whenever possible. National regulators argued that this mandatory substitution measure would place too heavy a burden on businesses.

Under the Nov. 30 compromise, it was agreed that businesses will be required to substitute chemicals with safer alternatives wherever possible for 1,500 of the 30,000 chemicals covered by REACH.

In an article by Businessweek, other provisions reportedly include: a review after six years of whether hormone disruptors should be placed in the toughest mandatory substitution category; a reduction in the number of animal tests under a "reproductive toxicity testing" scheme; and an extension of the confidentiality period for company information--from three to six years.

The current agreement is expected to be approved by the full assembly on Dec. 13, 2006, and environment ministers would then give final approval on Dec. 18, according to AP.

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