What is REACH?

REACH is a European Regulation and is an acronym for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. The overall aims of REACH are to:

  • Provide a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the use of chemicals
  • Allow free movement of substances on the EU market
  • Enhance innovation and the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry
  • Reduce animal testing by promoting the use of alternative methods of assessing chemicals

REACH entered into force on 1st June 2007 and replaced a large number of European Directives and Regulations in a single system.


Scope and exemptions

REACH has a very wide scope as it applies to all chemical substances that are manufactured, imported, placed on the market or used within the European Community, either on their own, in mixtures or in articles with intended release.

Some substances are exempted from the overall scope of REACH, while others are exempted from certain parts of the Regulation. Complete exemptions include:

  • Radioactive substances
  • Those under customs supervision
  • Non-isolated intermediates
  • Transport of substances
  • Waste

Other substances can be exempted from certain aspects of REACH provided they are regulated under other existing EU legislation, examples include:

  • Medicinal products for human or veterinary use
  • Food or feeding stuffs
  • Plant protection products and biocides

Substances listed in Annexes IV and V of REACH are exempt from registration.


The Health and Safety Authority and REACH

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the lead Competent and Enforcement Authority for REACH in Ireland. The Authority has a helpdesk that assists industry in fulfilling its obligations under REACH. Companies can contact the helpdesk by calling 0818 289 389 or by emailing chemicals@hsa.ie


The European Chemicals Agency and REACH

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is the body responsible for the administration of REACH in the EU. It manages the submission of data in the form of dossiers from industry and provides guidance and assistance to industry through its website, guidance and helpdesk. Further information on the Agency is available on its website at www.echa.eu.