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Reflecting on REACH: Global Implications of the European Union’s Chemicals Regulation
Volume 4, Issue 3

Diana Bowman, K.U. Leuven
Geert Van Calster, K.U. Leuven

The implementation of the European Union’s comprehensive new regime for chemicals, as governed by the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals (“REACH”) Regulation, signals a fundamental shift in the way in which manufactured and imported chemical substances will be regulated within the E.U. While REACH does not expressly refer to nanoscale substances, the wide scope of the regime will ensure that nanoscale substances are captured under its provisions. This article presents a brief overview of the new E.U. chemicals regime. It then evaluates the regulatory stance adopted by the E.U. within the context of nanotechnology, including a shift in burden of proof regarding safety to industry, the express inclusion of the precautionary principle within Article 1, and the use of mass as a trigger for registration and testing procedures. The authors conclude with a discussion on the broader and longer term impact of REACH on manufacturers and importers of nanoscale substances and products containing nanoparticles, with particular reference to the implications of REACH beyond the E.U.

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