- Greetings from a sunny and increasingly light Helsinki
- ECHA updates its key IT tools ahead of the 2013 deadline
- Stakeholders' Day focused on registration, evaluation and authorisation
- Regulation on biocidal products enters into force
- Simplified submission of downstream user reports available
- "To achieve the common REACH goals, cooperation with EU Member States is crucial"
- To apply or not to apply - that is the question for business
- Targeting evaluation where safety matters most
- Users help to test the new version of Chesar
- Guest column: Five year of REACH
- REACH and CLP impact : Chemicals legislation changing in Asia
- MEP Julie Girling visits ECHA: Understanding the role of the agencies
- Blogging about chemicals
- Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2012: Chemical safety in the spotlight
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We have 19 hours between sunrise and sunset today.It was, as always, a very great pleasure to meet so many of you again at our seventh Stakeholders' Day here at the end of May. Personally, this was my sixth Stakeholders' Day, and I was struck by just how far the debate has moved on since then. In May 2009, the discussion was very much about how difficult REACH was going to be to implement; how the deadline would never be achieved; how it was going to be impossible to reach data sharing agreements and arrangements that were fair for all concerned; and how companies would be put out of business by the demands of the legislation.
A new version of IUCLID 5 was released by the Agency on 5 June. IUCLID 5.4 introduces several changes on how to compile a dossier and submit certain data to ECHA. With this release and the subsequent upgrade of REACH-IT, certain information included in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) will be made publicly available in the registered substances database on ECHA's website starting from autumn 2012.
ECHA's seventh Stakeholders' Day on 23 May focused on three areas: preparations for the next registration deadline on 31 May 2013, feedback from the evaluation of the registration dossiers submitted in 2010 and applications for authorisation. Over 300 participants attended the event on-site and a further 350 followed online via web streaming. A video recording and the presentations from the event are available on the ECHA website.
The decision-making process for the Biocidal Products Regulation is now finalised and will enter into force in mid July 2012. The regulation will apply from 1 September 2013. By that date, ECHA will take up its new obligations. The new regulation sets rules for placing biocidal products, such as insecticides, disinfectants and repellents on the market. The aim is to simplify and harmonise the procedures for authorisation and, at the same time, ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment.
Communicating about safety
REACH requires that, under certain circumstances, downstream users report their uses of a substance to ECHA if these uses or conditions of use are not covered by the exposure scenarios provided by their supplier. The report must be sent to ECHA within six months of receiving the exposure scenarios from the supplier.
News from ECHA
ECHA's Executive Director Geert Dancet aims to visit the competent authorities for REACH and CLP in all EU Member States in the coming years. His goal is to foster cooperation and to raise awareness on the need for sufficient resources for chemicals management. In spring 2012, he visited Greece and Portugal, meeting also with politicians and stakeholders. Reaching the common REACH goals in times of austerity was the main topic during both visits.
"Member States are very important partners for ECHA", highlights Mr Dancet. "For me, the visits are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the REACH and CLP implementation in different countries to see how the national authorities are organised and which challenges they face.
The authorisation requirement in REACH has always raised a lot of expectations and concerns, including fear of the unknown. At its recent Stakeholders' Day, ECHA arranged a session on applications for authorisation which attempted to demystify issues relating to the analysis of alternatives and socio-economic analysis - two important aspects of the application process. ECHA also described how it intends to hold meaningful, transparent and efficient public consultations and publish as much of the detail of the opinions of its Committees as possible, whilst maintaining the integrity of confidential business information.
To streamline the evaluation process, which is among its top priorities this year, ECHA is introducing a new, concern driven targeted compliance check for the registration dossiers from the first REACH deadline. This means screening across all the dossiers for specific concerns. It also means increased efficiency in using ECHA's resources. Wim De Coen, ECHA Head of Unit for Evaluation, explains the new approach.
ECHA will release version 2.0 of Chesar by the end of June. The development team has tested the tool in collaboration with a group of users to improve the performance of the software.
During the testing of the new version, ECHA invited several users to participate in the testing and have a first look at the improvements of the tool. Marie-Hélène Enrici from Rhodia used Chesar for the first registration deadline to complete several registration dossiers and since then she has followed the development and testing of version 2.0. She acknowledges that the new version is much improved and more user friendly.
People and perspectives
Yes, it's true: REACH turned five years old on 1 June 2012. It is too early, naturally, to make a definitive assessment. As you might know, REACH will only come into full effect in 2018 and from that time on only will it be possible to analyse its results and effects. However, there is something we can say now without any doubt – REACH and ECHA, the machine that has been engineered to manage it, are working perfectly. The first important deadlines concerning the pre-registration and the registrations of chemical substances in high volumes have been achieved successfully. At the same time, the mechanism of evaluation and the identification of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) that will be affected by the restriction and authorisation processes have started working. It is also very important to highlight the fact that we have made access to information on chemical substances available to citizens as a right while at the same time guaranteeing industry's right to protect their confidential information. This is a great innovation that will have a positive effect in the future for the protection of human health and the environment both inside and outside Europe.
The REACH and CLP Regulations are not only impacting Europe but also have a strong impact on other continents including Asia. Increased costs and trade disadvantages are matters that are frequently raised. However, many Asian countries are reviewing and rewriting their chemical policies and regulations, and using REACH as the model. Thanks to this, public health and the environment are both likely to improve in Asia.
Member of the European Parliament, Julie Girling, is visiting the European agencies that impact on her work to gain a better understanding of the different roles and mandates they have. She visited ECHA in April to air out some of the issues her constituents had brought up about REACH and CLP and to learn more about the implementation of the Biocides Regulation.
Talking to consumers about chemicals and chemical exposure is not always easy. For the average citizen, the information available is sometimes hard to understand. However, the use of different web publishing tools has created a new platform, where individual citizens and freelance journalists can write about their chosen topics and get their messages across in layman's terms. ECHA Newsletter spoke to two bloggers, who publish a blog related to chemicals, to find out more about their interests and aims, and why they have chosen chemicals as their topic.
The harmonisation of chemical regulations, communicating on the safety of chemicals, challenges to innovation and alternative testing methods were among the topics of the Helsinki Chemicals Forum from 24 to 25 May in Helsinki.
Biocidal Products Committee:
26 February-1 March
Committee for Risk Assessment:
6-8 March and
Committee for Socio-Economic
Management Board meeting:
23-27 March (tentative)
Member State Committee:
20-24 April (tentative)