Very short list of chemicals for longest law

It was years in the making and holds the dubious honour of being the most complicated piece of legislation to ever come out of Brussels but chemical control code REACH looks set to apply to just 12 compounds - initially at least.

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations are supposed to provide a balance between the commercial interests of European businesses and the need to protect public health and the environment.

Environmental NGOs and public interest groups have published a list of 270 chemicals of 'very high concern' that they are calling a SIN (Substitute It Now) list.

But the first list of hazardous chemicals to be covered by the REACH regulations could be much shorter than that.

While the fact that all the chemicals on the NGOs' list are toxic is not controversial, the body set up to the administer the regulations, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has so far only put forward 16 candidates for the official list - four of which have yet to receive unanimous approval of the committee tasked with drawing up the list.

The final list is set to be published in mid-October.

Geert Dancet, executive director of ECHA, said the list was this short because the legislation was new and those dealing with it were still coming to terms with the administrative burden.

He gave assurances that it was a 'living list' which would be added to over time and would be reviewed at least once a year.

Chemicals which appear on the final list will face severe restrictions or an outright ban within the EU.

Sam Bond



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