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What is REACH?

REACH is the regulation for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemical substances. REACH also includes restrictions that apply to substances and has been in force since 1 June 2007.

REACH has the purpose of ensuring a ‘high level of protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, the promotion of alternative testing methods, the free circulation of substances on the internal market and enhancing competitiveness and innovation’. (article 1.1).


REACH aims to ensure:

- better protection of public health and the environment against the risks of chemical substances;

- greater competitiveness of the European chemical sector, a very important sector in the European economy;

- the promotion of alternative methods;

- the free circulation of substances on the internal market of the European Union.


More responsibility for the sector

The major innovation under REACH is that the sector takes responsibility for the management of the risks of chemical substances and for the provision of appropriate safety information for the users.

The regulation also gives the European Union the opportunity to take additional measures for particularly dangerous substances.

REACH also introduced the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), that plays a key coordinating and implementing role for the whole process.

All manufacturers and importers of chemical substances are bound to determine and manage the risks associated with the substances they produce and market. For substances manufactured and imported in quantities of one ton or more each year and per company, the manufacturers and importers must demonstrate that they are complying with all the provisions on the basis of a registration dossier that they submit to the ECHA.


REACH provides for:

  • registration with ECHA of substances manufactured or imported in quantities of at least one ton each year by all manufacturers or importers;
  • evaluation by the competent authorities of certain substances selected on the basis of the tonnage and other criteria;
  • the authorisation procedure for substances of the highest concern;
  • the restriction procedure for certain dangerous substances and preparations and certain dangerous articles.

Areas of use

The REACH regulation is applicable to the manufacture, marketing or use of substances as such or in mixtures and articles. REACH is also applicable to the marketing of mixtures.

REACH applies to all substances with a number of exceptions:

- radioactive substances

- substances under customs supervision

- the transport of substances

- non-isolated intermediates

- waste

Various other substances are also exempt from certain parts of the REACH provisions when another equivalent law is in force (for example substances used in medicines).

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