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Friday, December 15, 2006

European Union REACHes for Yet More Regulation

On Wednesday, the European Union adopted sweeping new regulations on chemicals. As an EU statement put it:
One of the biggest pieces of legislation in the EU's history, REACH will set up a system for the registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals for sale in the EU. About 30,000 substances stand to be registered and 3000 authorized. It puts the burden of proof on industry to prove that their chemicals are safe or undertake research to prove they pose not threat to human health and the environment. A new EU chemicals agency based in Helsinki will be responsible for the registration and authorization of chemicals.
National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen was less than enthuasistic about the REACH proposal when he wrote about it for us last year:
The European Union's REACH proposal, if adopted, will reduce international trade in chemicals, inhibit innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises, and raise costs and regulatory burdens on all users of chemical products.

Because all manufactured products contain chemicals, finished goods, including their components, are subject to REACH. The whole supply chain will be under the gun. More than half of all the products imported into the EU will be affected by REACH. Many low-volume chemicals will have to be withdrawn from the market, not because they pose a danger to the public, but because the cost of jumping through the EU's testing hoops will exceed the cost of withdrawal. Yet, all this is completely unnecessary. Chemicals already undergo extensive testing for their effects on human health and the environment.
Addendum: Environmentalists are saying REACH won't be restrictive enough.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 AM

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