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Five years ago, the REACH Regulation was adopted in order to ensure that chemical substances would become safer. The aim is among other to replace the most dangerous chemicals by less hazardous substances. So far, companies have registered 7,884 chemical substances with the European Chemicals Agency. The costs for registering chemicals were 2.1 billion Euros at the end of 2012.
So far, the Chemicals Agency has rated 136 chemical substances hazardous. The search for replacement substances for such materials takes high priority. Unfortunately, the European Commission fails to mention whether the safety of employees who come into regular contact with chemical substances could be increased. After all, safeguarding human health is one of the key objectives of the REACH Regulation. However, an impact assessment assumes that the positive effects on public health shall amount to 50 billion Euros within 30 years. Positive effects on health shall become evident from 2018.

However, according to a press release by the Commission, it is also an objective to find alternatives to animal testing. Hence, about 330 million Euros have been made available for research in this sector since 2007. Unfortunately, the Commission fails to mention whether and to what extent animal testing has been reduced.

In its information on REACH, the Commission states that over the past 10 years Europe’s share in the chemicals market has dropped from 30 % to 21 %. However, the EU was still the largest exporter of chemicals worldwide. Having said that, today China is the largest producer of chemical substances. This statement by the Commission raises the question whether the most hazardous and toxic substances have simply been outsourced to China in order to bypass the high standards set in the European Union.

A conference to be held in the coming months has been scheduled to review REACH. Apart from a clear division of work of the authorities concerned with chemical substances, the review of REACH will probably in particular focus on lowering the fees for small and medium-sized enterprises.