The EU recently updated their Environment: Chemicals page. There’s a wealth of information and links on the page on EU chemical regulations and the introduction of the REACH system:

In the early days of the European Community it was recognised that there was a need to protect the Community’s environment and to create common standards to protect consumers in order to ensure the free circulation of goods among the Member States. For this reason, the first Community environment legislation dealt with products, amongst them dangerous chemicals.

However, in recent years, drawbacks of the current system have been identified and examined. The most important of these are:

  • 100.106 existing substances can be used without testing
  • burden of proof on public authorities
  • no efficient instrument to ensure safe use of the most problematic substances
  • lack of incentives for innovation, in particular of less hazardous substitutes

The REACH Regulation, which was formally adopted on 18 December 2006, addresses the shortcomings of the current system.

The full page is available here: EU Environment – Chemicals.