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REACH

by Renee

May 31, 2007

June 1st is an important date for the health and environment of the EU. REACH is on!

REACH stands for registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals. It’s a revolutionary piece of legislation that fiercely effects the chemical industry and boy are they pissed.

 

Flip through our info on what’s going on and why you should care. I mean do you know what that new car smell actually is? Gross. Super gross in fact. That’s the smell of toxic chemicals leaching out of the steering wheel, fabric, and the rest of the plastic inside. Yeah, I told you it was nasty.

 and then  . . . 

Read this article:

  From the US Trade Press…
REACH Enters Into Force on June 1; Too Early to Celebrate, Advocates Say
BNA Daily Environment Report, Wednesday, May 30, 2007           Page A-6

The European Union’s registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals (REACH) legislation is set to enter into force June 1, but a coalition of eight advocacy organizations said May 25 it is "too early to celebrate REACH."

"Embedded in the REACH legislation are numerous reviews, beginning in 2007 and continuing for the next 12 years," the coalition said. "These reviews will give the European Commission and EU member states the opportunity to tighten the legislation in line with last year’s demands by civil society and some of the main political parties.

"However, the reviews could also be used by the chemical industry to further weaken current safety requirements," according to the statement from BEUC, an EU consumers organization; the European Environmental Bureau; Health and Environment Alliance; Euro Coop, an association of EU consumer cooperatives; Friends of the Earth Europe; Greenpeace; Women in Europe for a Common Future; and World Wildlife Fund.

At an EU Chemicals Regulation 2007 conference held May 1-2 in Washington, D.C., a consultant to the European Commission’s Environment Directorate-General (DG) described numerous reviews that the legislation directs the Commission to undertake (84 DEN A-7, 5/2/07  ).

Reviews Within Two Years

By June 1, 2008, the Commission is supposed to review Annex I, which contains rules for chemical safety reports; Annex IV, which describes when substances are exempted from registration because, for example, sufficient information is known about the chemical and the risk is minimal; and Annex V, which addresses substances exempted from registration under the current legislation, according to Mark Blainey, independent consultant to the Environment DG.

If the Commission deems changes to be needed, it can propose those and the European Parliament can review the recommendations, Blainey said. The European Parliament has three months to review those changes, he said. If a majority objects to the changes, the Parliament can block them, he added, referring to a new procedure approved in June 2006.

By June 1, 2008, the Commission must issue a regulation describing the fees chemical manufacturers or manufacturers of products that release chemicals above a specified threshold will have to pay to register their chemicals, he said.

The fees are supposed to pay for 80 percent of the budget of the new European Chemicals Agency established by REACH, he noted.

The agency’s Board of Appeals is to be set up as close as possible to June 1, 2008, Blainey said, adding that "appeals could arrive shortly thereafter."

By Dec. 1, 2008, the Commission is supposed to review Annex XIII, which provides the criteria to be used to identify persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals (PBTs) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative substances (vPvBs), he said.

The European Parliament included this review because some member states are concerned that the criteria REACH contains are not protective enough and that a substance of high concern might be missed, Blainey said.

Also by Dec. 1, 2008, the Commission is to review Annex XI.3, which allows companies to reduce the amount of test data they include in their registration package if they can show exposures to a substance they are registering would be sufficiently low, he said.

The Commission must decide what constitutes adequate justification for exposure controls to allow a company not to submit data that otherwise would be required by REACH, Blainey said.

Once again the Commission could propose changes, and the European Parliament has three months to review those changes, he said.

Scope of Law, Additional Requirements

By June 1, 2012, the Commission is supposed to review: the scope of REACH to determine whether it overlaps with other relevant EU provisions; how well the European Chemicals Agency is working; and whether certain substances have been affected too much by REACH, Blainey said.

By June 1, 2013, the Commission will review whether uses of substances that have endocrine-disrupting properties should still be authorized if a suitable safer alternative exists, he said.

The reason, Blainey said, is that the Parliament had wanted more stringent authorization language in REACH for substances, such as endocrine disruptors, that it considers high-concern chemicals, but it agreed to less-stringent language as part of a compromise that allowed the legislation to be adopted.

By June 1, 2019, the Commission is to determine whether registrants of chemicals made in or imported into the European Union in volumes of less than 10 metric tons should have to prepare chemical safety reports, Blainey said. Currently, chemical safety reports are not required for substances made in or imported into the European Union in volumes below 10 metric tons.

By that date the Commission also is to decide whether to extend REACH’s obligation to inform consumers about substances, released by articles, that are not of very high concern but which could still be dangerous or unpleasant, such as causing allergies, according to information from the Commission’s website.

By June 1, 2019, the Commission also will decide if reproductive toxicity test data should be required for chemicals that are made in or imported into the European Union in volumes between 10 metric tons and 100 metric tons per year, Blainey said.

‘Green Agenda Certain to Resurface.’

As all these reviews are conducted, "the unfulfilled ‘Green Agenda’ is certain to resurface," according to David Bowe, a member of the European Parliament from 1989 to 2004 and now a consultant.

"Building upon what they have already achieved, [advocacy groups] will seek ways to ensure that the Commission and the European Chemicals Agency apply the most stringent interpretation to the yet undecided elements of the implementation package," he told the May 1-2 conference, adding that advocacy groups are likely to focus on the Parliament to encourage members to block changes the Commission may propose.

Industry also should be lobbying to achieve its goals, Bowe said, but he stressed that those efforts should be focused on making REACH work.

Summaries of REACH from the Commission’s Environment and Enterprise Directorate-Generals are available, respectively, at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/qa.htm and http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/reach/docs/reach/TechnicalQA_Feb2007.pdf.

By Pat Phibbs-Rizzuto
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Well, I’m back from CA. Sunny, humid, and busy Washington DC for me again. Don’t worry if the electronics industry doesn’t continue to move towards greener designed products I’ll be back at it following people asking, why the hell not kids?  

Take care. Renee.  

By Renee

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