European Parliament adopts REACH - Chemicals Management By The Precautionary Principle

The European REACH program has been accepted by Parliament. Within this decade, pending final action by the EU Commission, all chemicals sold in Europe will have to be registered, and a list of 3,000 particularly hazardous materials must be proven safe by their makers through an "authorization" process. This reverses a 60+ year old world-wide tradition whereby serious adverse chemical risks are proven by governments or in court, post-exposure. Heavens: might this spell the beginning-of-the-end for "Toxic Tort" liability cases? The US Plaintiffs Bar may not be pleased. Officially: - "Parliament adopted the compromise it negotiated with Council on the new regulation for chemicals, REACH, which will oblige producers to register all those chemical substances produced or imported above a total quantity of 1 tonne per year. Registration will affect about 30,000 substances. For more hazardous substances, producers will have to submit a substitution plan to replace them with safer alternatives". Per the Parliamentary report, about 3,000 substances already in commerce will be most significantly scrutinized. As "dossiers" for the 3,000 are perused by designers, retailers, and their customers, however, we expect continued voluntary movement away from use of the "bad boys," starting where cost effective, less hazardous alternatives exist.

The immediate upshot: lots of spinning and scrambling over what's in the REACH "dossier" that characterizes risk and exposure for each material.

Retailers will be calling their suppliers to get early interpretations of how long they have to find alternatives. Stock valuations may be affected for companies that who have concentrated on selling the di-methyl chickenwire variations.

What flies in the EU first, sets a global precendent. As with Climate Change, Island USA does not seem to have fully prevailed through its lobbying. Caveat: it's all just ideas on paper until the Helinski staff is up and running with management systems that are publicly transparent.