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European Chemicals Policy Now In Effect PDF Print E-mail

Far-reaching rules governing the multibillion - euro chemicals industry came into force at the end of May but environmentalists and consumer groups claim the legislation does not go far enough to protect human health.

Some of the most dangerous chemicals in the 27-nation European Union have been banned from use while some 30 000 other substances used in products ranging from detergents to toys will have to be registered in an EU database. The law known as REACH, for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals places the burden of proof on companies to demonstrate that industrial chemicals and substances used in everyday products are safe.

Environmentalists and consumers are concerned that not enough chemicals will be tested and that many high-concern chemicals may be allowed onto the market if producers can prove they can adequately control them. REACH replaces some 40 different EU rules currently governing the use of chemicals in the EU. In the past companies could sell almost any chemical without being required to provide detailed health and safety information.

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