An EC report, reviewing the progress of the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals regulation (REACH) published February 5, 20113 concluded that the chemical safety in the EU has increased considerably since the introduction of REACH. It further determines REACH to be an adequate framework for the regulation of nanomaterials and says to reduce the impact of REACH on small to medium size enterprises (SMEs). The EC also published a survey showing that citizens feel that the EU has become a safer place with respect to chemicals.
The conclusions are criticized by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). The EEB points out that the report was based on the number of documents processed, rather than the number of chemicals removed from the market due to safety concerns. 1000 to 1500 hazardous substances are estimated to exist, but so far only 138 have been identified as candidates for phase-out under REACH. Also the regulation of nanomaterials under REACH is criticized. The EEB argues that nanomaterials are often produced in such small volumes that they effectively evade risk assessment.
REACH has been in force since 2007 and aims to achieve a comprehensive registration of chemicals used in consumer items. The second phase will be completed by 2013, when all chemicals produced in quantities of more than 100 tonnes per annum will have to be registered.