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New European Chemicals Agency must act on hazardous chemicals.
 03.06.2008 00:00:43
New European Chemicals Agency must act on hazardous chemicals

WHEN: The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will open on 3rd June 2008 in Helsinki.

WHAT: The task of the European Chemicals Agency is to assure the implementation of REACH, the EU chemicals regulation that entered into force on 1st June 2007 after 8 years of fierce debate.

WHAT IS AT STAKE: The opening of ECHA marks the beginning of the obligation for companies to
provide health and safety information on industrial chemicals. However, REACH registration only applies
to around 30,000 of the more than 100,000 known chemicals - i.e. only those substances produced in
amounts of more than one tonne per year. In the following months ECHA will prepare a 'candidate list'
for substances of very high concern that will be subject to legal actions such as bans. This list will
consist of substances with dangerous properties including those that are proven to cause cancer,
impair fertility or bioaccumulate. Industry will be obliged to apply for permission for their use and
consumers will have the right to obtain more information on the eventual presence of these substances
in the products they buy. Proposals for the first version of the 'candidate' list are expected to be
published in early autumn 2008.

WHAT PUBLIC INTEREST ORGANISATIONS ASK: A coalition of European environmental, health,
women's and consumer groups is calling for the new European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to give
absolute priority to the protection of public health and the environment. While in principle hundreds of
chemicals meet the classifications for "substances of very high concern", only a few dozen may be
included in the list in the immediate future. The European Commission and ECHA appear to have
passed all responsibility for proposing dangerous substances onto EU Member States.

The public interest organisations demand ECHA

- to invest more resources in the creation of a comprehensive list that includes - from the outset - all
known hazardous substances. The presence of worrisome chemicals in humans and the
environment requires protective measures without delay. An extensive list of candidate substances
scheduled for tightened rules in the future would also serve industry as a warning signal to look for
and adopt safer alternatives.

- to ensure a fair balance of public or private interests representation in its technical committees as
well as full transparency and access to documents on its procedures and decisions.

The coalition will closely monitor the work of ECHA, demanding transparency and access to
information, in the belief that public participation is essential to ensure that REACH becomes an
effective tool to protect the environment and public health for generations to come.



For more information, please contact:

Gwynne Lyons, CHEM Trust, tel: +44 1603 507363, www.chemtrust.org.uk

Christian Schaible, European Environmental Bureau, tel: +32 2 289 1094, www.eeb.org

Lisette van Vliet, Toxic Policy Advisor, Health & Environment Alliance, tel: +32 2 234 3645, www.chemicalshealthmonitor.org

Rosita Zilli, Euro Coop, tel: +32 2 285 00 72, www.eurocoop.coop

David Azoulay, Friends of the Earth Europe, tel: +32 2 542 6108, www.foeeurope.org

Nadia Haiama, Greenpeace, tel: +32 2 274 1913, www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/

Nicole van Gemert, Women in Europe for a Common Future, tel: +31-30-2310300, www.wecf.eu

Ninja Reineke, WWF, tel: +32 2 740 0926, www.panda.org/eu




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