The Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a European Union law instated in 2007 to regulate harmful chemicals across all industries. It aims to protect human health and the environment from risks caused by exposure to chemicals. Managed by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), REACH also encourages alternative testing methods to animal testing. Nearly all chemical substances fall under the purview of REACH, from those used in industrial manufacturing to those found in cleaning products, electrical appliances, and furniture. REACH requires companies to test and register any products manufactured or sold in the EU containing chemicals at quantities greater than one ton per year. Products that contain multiple chemicals, substances or mixtures, must register each chemical that occurs at a volume exceeding one ton per year.
REACH establishes methods for collecting and testing chemicals to determine their risk levels. REACH-compliant companies are responsible for identifying and managing risks associated with their products and communicating this information to ECHA and to consumers. They must also show how the product can be used safely and how to manage risks to users. If a chemical’s risks are deemed unmanageable, ECHA can restrict its use. EU member states may have further specifications and evaluation procedures for selected substances.
Only companies with a legal entity in the EU can submit REACH registrations. Companies outside of the EU that export products to EU territory are not responsible for registration—instead, an EU-based importer or EU representative is accountable.
Some substances are completely or partially exempted from REACH regulation—these include radioactive substances, waste products, medicinal products, polymers, and naturally-occurring substances such as minerals, ores, natural gas, and oil. Companies and industry professionals can search for substances online on the REACH registered substances list and pre-registered substance list.