REACH constricted

Published: Saturday 31 December 2005

The European Union parliament has passed an amended version of the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (reach) bill. The controversial bill has the industry against the labour unions and environmental groups. If enacted, reach will force businesses to disclose the amount and kind of chemicals it uses, encourage a shift to safer chemicals and push the chemical sector towards research and the development of safer surrogates for harmful chemicals.

The amendments in the draft law have been criticised by environmental groups for having gaps regarding safety issues and for limiting the amount of data required for chemical usage by companies under 10 tonnes. Though all of the 30,000 chemicals will still need to be registered, up to two-thirds of them will now be exempted from mandatory tests. Aleksandra Kordecka of the environmental group, Friends of the Earth, says, "We will have full safety data for 85 per cent of substances that were originally supposed to be covered by reach." Now it is up to the European governments to reach a political agreement at a mid-December meet.

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