What is REACH?

REACH (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals.

This regulation entered into force on 1 June 2007. It applies, in principle, to all chemicals substances and places the burden of the proof on industry. Companies must identify and manage the risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market in the EU. They have to demonstrate to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) how the substance can be safely used, and they must communicate the risk management measures to the users.

If the risks cannot be managed, authorities can restrict the use of substances in different ways. In the long run, the most hazardous substances should be substituted with less dangerous ones.


REACH processes

  • Registration: Companies have the responsibility of collecting information on the properties and the uses of substances that they manufacture or import at or above one tonne per year. They also have to make an assessment of the hazards and potential risks presented by the substance. Registrants of the same substance need to work together to comply with the principle of “one substance, one registration”.
  • Evaluation: ECHA and the Member States can evaluate the information submitted by companies to examine the quality of the registration dossiers and the testing proposals and to clarify if a given substance constitutes a risk to human health or the environment.
  • Authorisation: Substances considered of very high concern may be subject to the authorisation regime. These substances cannot be placed on the market or used unless an authorisation is granted for their specific use, or the use is exempted from authorisation. This procedure aims to assure that the risks are properly controlled and that these substances are progressively replaced by suitable alternatives while ensuring the good functioning of the EU internal market. 
  • Restriction: In order to protect human health and the environment from unacceptable risks posed by chemicals, authorities may impose restrictions to limit or ban the manufacture, placing on the market or specific uses of a substance.

European Chemicals Agency

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) was created to drive the implementation of the EU chemicals legislation, including REACH, for the benefit of human health and the environment as well as for innovation and competitiveness. ECHA helps companies to comply with the legislation, advances the safe use of chemicals, provides information on chemicals and addresses chemicals of concern. ECHA also publishes information included in the registrations dossiers on its website, which is freely available for all European citizens, although parts of the dossier can be claimed confidential.

You can find detailed information on REACH and other EU chemicals legislation on ECHA website.