Chemical companies in Europe are not providing sufficient information on the hazards and risks of the substances they produce to ensure their safe use by citizens, says a report from the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), Europe’s chemical regulator.
In a report published on 27 February, the agency finds that companies are not complying with a new European Union (EU) law — REACH (registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals) that came into force in 2006.
Nature first revealed problems with companies’ compliance with the law in July last year (see Data gaps threaten chemical safety law). At the time, Jukka Malm, director of regulatory affairs at the ECHA, told Nature: “Industry has not taken full responsibility for the quality of data.”
The ECHA says that it has identified “deficiencies” in the safety reports submitted by companies, which detail substances’ hazards, uses or potential exposures, risks and risk-management measures. Given the missing information, the “safe use of chemicals cannot be achieved”, the agency says.
In 2011, the ECHA checked 146 dossiers containing chemical-safety information submitted by companies as required by law. Of these, 134 lacked sufficient data and the ECHA had to request that companies fill these information gaps.
In particular, companies are not properly identifying the substances they produce. This “undermines the pertinence of the hazard information” supplied by companies and of information on how to use the substances safely, says the agency.
The ECHA calls on companies to “proactively” update and improve the quality of the information they have provided on the substances they produce.