Three Million Chemicals Are Candidates for First EU Inventory of Hazards

BRUSSELS, Belgium, January 5, 2011 (ENS) – More than three million notices classifying chemical substances in line with new EU rules have been received, the European Chemicals Agency said today. Classification will allow the agency to decide whether a chemical is dangerous to health or the environment, and will determine what information is on the labels of chemicals that workers and consumers use.

Lab chemicals in Germany (Photo by aperture7.1)

The data will enable the agency to establish the first European inventory of hazardous substances and harmonized classifications, due for publication later this year.

“The first inventory of all hazardous substances in the EU will ensure that all companies, including small businesses, and consumers will have the necessary information for the safe use of chemicals,” said European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, who also serves as commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship.

The new rules “will foster the sustainability and competitiveness of the European chemicals industry,” said Tajani.

Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Environment said, “The publication and harmonization of classifications will improve safety for all those handling chemicals and will enable downstream users and consumers to select less hazardous chemicals for their needs.”

The new rules are set forth in the EU Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of chemicals, which ensures that the same hazards are described and labeled in the same way all around the world by aligning the EU classification system with the United Nations Globally Harmonised System.

Geert Dancet, head of the European Chemicals Agency (Photo courtesy ECHA)

All companies manufacturing or importing hazardous substances were required to classify them by December 1, 2010 and notify the agency by Monday. The agency received 3,114,835 notifications by the deadline.

The largest number of the notifications, over 800,000, came from Germany. Over 500,000 notifications were submitted from the United Kingdom and nearly 300,000 from France. Altogether, more than 6,600 companies notified at least one substance.

Geert Dancet, executive airector of the European Chemicals Agency, said, “This is a perfect start for the International Year of Chemistry. The Classification and Labelling Inventory, which will be publicly available later this year, will significantly improve safety by providing up-to-date information on all the hazardous substances that are on the EU market today.”

For hazardous substances and substances with registration deadlines in 2013 or 2018 that were placed on the EU market on or after December 1, 2010, manufacturers or importers must notify the agency within one month after they are placed on the market for the first time.

Industry will be responsible for agreeing upon the classification of all substances.

But for particularly severe hazards – where substances cause cancer or genetic mutations, or are toxic to reproduction – authorities in the 27 EU Member States and the European Chemicals Agency will review all available information and propose harmonized classifications, which the European Commission will make mandatory through legislation.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.