Stricter laws

Published: Sunday 15 June 2003

The European Commission is considering strengthening the present chemical safety rules to ensure the removal of hazardous products. Under the proposal, companies would have to publicly state the properties of the chemicals used in their manufactured merchandise. Special authorisations would be required for elements that are known to cause grave side-effects in humans and animals, or persist in the environment.

"The simple rule is: no data, no market," European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrm clarified. She added that currently only chemicals introduced in the market after 1981 were being tested, leaving out more than 100,000 substances whose effects are unknown.

The legislation is expected to affect thousands of companies across the world. Chemicals produced or imported in amounts greater than a tonne would be tested under the 'Reach' (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) scheme.

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