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How to Find Out about the Chemicals You’re Exposed to

February 16th, 2016

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has changed the way that information on chemicals is presented on their website.

ECHA is responsible for managing and assessment of the dossiers that manufacturers and importers must submit on chemicals (“substances”) in the EU under the REACH Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 and in compliance with the Biocidal Products Regulation (EU) No 528/2012. In addition, substances on the market must be classified, labelled and packaged in accordance with the CLP Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, with notifications of the classifications made to ECHA.

The result of this is that there is a great deal of information about chemicals and their hazards available, and much of is publically available via the ECHA website. ECHA have recently (Jan 2016) changed the way they present the data, to make it easier for people to find relevant information in a readily-understandable form.

The result of this is that a search for chemicals on the ECHA website (using either a name, or a number associated with the chemical, i.e. EC number or CAS number) finds an Infocard. If the chemical has been registered under REACH then also available are a Brief Profile, which has greater detail, and Source Data, which includes the data submitted under REACH.

Infocard: This is written in easy-to-understand English, and includes information on what they are used for, and the classification and labelling which communicate the hazards of the substance. There are also links to precautions that should be taken, as well as regulatory programmes in which the substance is included.

Brief Profile: The brief profile has two tabs. The first of these, Substance Description, is a slightly more detailed version of the Infocard. The second tab shows the scientific properties of the substance, taken from the source data. The usefulness of this information will be affected by how the Registrant presented the data in the dossier.

Source Data: For substances which have been registered under REACH, the source data includes much of the information that was included in the dossier, on the basis of which understanding of the hazards is developed and decisions about classification are made, as well as more detail on the processes in which the substance is used.