The Helsinki-based European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will take over enforcement of the REACH legislation from June 1.

REACH, an EU regulation dealing with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances, came into force last June.

The ECHA will be headed by Belgian Geert Dancet, who has served as the interim executive director since last June.

EU chiefs have said the new agency will “play a key role in the effective implementation of REACH” and help to deliver improved health and environmental conditions.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Properly setting up the ECHA is the next big step to make sure that REACH will work in practice.

“Much work remains to be done to protect our health and the environment from the dangers chemicals can pose.”

The European Chemicals Bureau (ECB), which was established in 1993, became increasingly important in the late 1990s in the assessment and control of the risks posed by chemical substances.

Its work has included the classification and labelling of dangerous substances, the notification of new substances, and export and import controls of dangerous chemicals.

Following research by the ECB, the European Commission proposed new chemicals regulation in 2000, which led to the development of the REACH legislation.

Kate Martin

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