Links to information about Regulation of Chemicals—REACH and its importance for the US

            The European Union (EU) is embarked on a far reaching regulatory undertaking—to investigate the chemicals we release into the environment, and move toward enactment of a precautionary approach.  This means that some chemicals could be used only for specific applications, after being tested for effects on the environment and human health.  REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) was passed in 2007, and is now in the early stages of implementation.  In the United States, efforts to substantially reform TOSCA (the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976) broke down in 2010.  However, even under existing law REACH will have significant effects in the United States, in at least three ways.  The EU is a large market for companies that manufacture or use chemicals in their products, the US imports many chemicals, and, perhaps most significantly, existing US law contains triggers for more aggressive regulation that may be set off by REACH. 


Richard Denison, of Environmental Defense fund, wrote a comparative study of chemical regulations in the US, Canada, and the EU.  He also wrote an account of how the US will be affected by REACH. 


What is REACH?

The European Chemicals Agency (lead agency for REACH), and their Candidate List. 

The International Chemical Secretariat consortium of groups that want less toxics out in the world, and a tighter definition of toxicity, published its sinlist (substitute it now).

The European Chemical Industry Council provides a great deal of information about REACH.  Here is a typical position paper on a related subject. 


Science as Battleground

Since REACH will produce a very large amount of scientific data that may have policy consequences, we can expect a struggle over the interpretation of the science.  We can also expect a well-financed effort to produce material that will cast doubt on efforts to regulate, perhaps as intense as in the case of climate change.   For an example of what such efforts will produce, see the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology.  Check their Journal.  This looks scientific.  Peer-reviewed, too.  And yetÉ. check their sponsors. They have been supported by tobacco, chemical, and drug companies.  Check the editor of the journal, and the Wikipedia page about him. 

Thanks to David Michaels, Doubt is Their Product, pp. 53-4, for this example.  Michaels did not cite the Wikipedia page.