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Article related to: REACH
New substance infocards - more useful and transparent information on chemicals
In January 2016, ECHA will change the way in which you will see chemicals data on our website. Information on up to 120 000 chemicals will be structured in three layers: Infocard, Brief Profile and detailed source data.
The most impressive new feature is the Infocard, which offers a summary of the key information on a substance in plain English. "Users will be able to see at a quick glance the key properties of the substance: how it is classified and whether it is hazardous or not. And, if the substance has worrying properties, the Infocard also shows how the substance is being scrutinised by the regulators," says Ms Christel Musset, Director of Registration at ECHA. "It will be very useful, for example, to workers and downstream users as well as citizens interested in chemicals."
Biggest in the world
ECHA's database is one of the biggest sources of regulatory information on chemicals in the world. It integrates the information from REACH registrations and C&L notifications with substance evaluation and risk management processes, such as harmonised classification and labelling, authorisation and restriction.
For biocides, ECHA publishes information on active substances, biocidal products as well as a list of active substance and product suppliers. Statistics on the export and import of hazardous substances that are regulated under the Prior Informed Consent Regulation (PIC) are also made available.
Ms Musset is open to the idea that in the future ECHA's database would cover even more widely the European legislation affecting chemical substances. Immediate focus is still, however, in improving the usability of the current information. "Our aim is to make it even better. After the January launch, we will work further on integrating information from all our regulatory processes in the website. For example, the user will be able to see how a certain substance progresses in dossier evaluation."
In 2016-2017, the Agency will be testing different models for delivering data from the portal so that the stakeholders can use the information for their own needs. "Academic researchers might, for example, be interested in utilising the information to build QSAR predictions."
Quality of data more prominent
As the revamp restructures the information and makes it more transparent, it also makes the discrepancies in the data more visible. This is the case in particular with the different classifications and uses of the substance. "For example, it will be easy to verify whether a substance registered as an intermediate is used for applications that are not in line with the boundaries of an intermediate registration."
Companies are encouraged to keep their dossiers up-to-date with the latest information they have. "Good quality information on the substance increases the trust of the public in the chemical industry."
Towards safer chemicals
With dissemination, ECHA has first ensured that information from the registration dossiers and the C&L Inventory would be made publicly available. It is now gradually moving towards making best use of this wealth of information in the regulatory processes as well as for the general public.
In the global picture, the launch can be linked to the United Nations' World Summit on Sustainable Development. "In 2002, the international community made a commitment to gather information about chemicals and make this information publically available. Our website is a big contribution to that goal from the EU," Ms Musset concludes.
- Information on chemicals – Watch this space in January 2016!
- From an info card to detailed source data - ECHA's plans for chemicals communication, Newsletter 1/2014
Are you interested in writing about the new Infocard for your own publication?
Contact ECHA press.
From our stakeholders:
"Eight years after the introduction of REACH, ECHA possesses one of the most extensive databases of European chemicals. Industry and NGOs can benefit from it in different ways – for registration purposes, searching for specific information and so on. Now, the information is even more accessible through the Infocards and Brief Profiles.
Through these, REACH will strengthen its role in giving information on the handling of chemicals in the workplace. Trade unions have always been demanding short and understandable information about the properties of substances. Extended safety data sheets are difficult to understand and not fit for purpose.
The new functionalities of the dissemination portal completely fill the gap on providing meaningful and reliable information on substances. Thus, in practical terms, REACH is contributing to better health and workplace protection. My hope is that the link to the Brief Profile is given a prominent place in the database, so that workers who do not use ECHA's website very often can benefit from this."
Gertraud Lauber, German trade union IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (IG BCE)
"Following the REACH 'no data, no market' principle, before a chemical is allowed in the market, manufacturers and importers must register it and prove it is safe by submitting information on identification, hazards, volume, exposure scenarios description, recommended risk management measures, etc.
Tatiana Santos, Senior Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
Interview by Hanna-Kaisa Torkkeli
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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)