New chemical oversight rules

REACH is the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals law in Europe.

WorldChanging says it will fundamentally change the game for materials and chemicals.

REACH requires all chemicals sold or used in Europe to be registered. Manufacturers or distributors must supply a chemical’s properties, materials safety data sheets, risk management guidelines, and safety measures for downstream users.

More than 1,500 hazardous chemicals will require permission from the European Commission to use; some chemicals will not be allowed at all.

The government is not burdened with proving a chemical is harmful. It falls to industry to evaluate toxicity.

REACH covers all chemicals, both substances and mixtures, existing and new. It includes not only the chemicals a company makes, but all the chemicals contained in a product the company sells or used used in manufacturing.

REACH governs intentionally released chemicals such as printer ink and non-intentionally released chemicals such as dye in jeans; any amount more than one metric ton per year produced or imported into Europe.

Consumers or groups may request safety and environmental impact data from manufacturers. While there are many loopholes, a landmark database will be open to anyone, but proprietary chemical data may be available only to regulators.