First EU chemicals database shows 400 dangerous substances

December 1, 2010
Cones warning of hazardous materials. More than 400 chemicals that cause cancer, mutations or reproductive problems are being used in the European Union, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said in Helsinki on Wednesday.

More than 400 chemicals that cause cancer, mutations or reproductive problems are being used in the European Union, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said in Helsinki on Wednesday.

The ECHA unveiled what spokesman Mikko Vaananen described as "without exaggeration the most ambitious chemicals project in the world," containing a total of 4,300 substances.

Companies were required to register hazardous chemicals with the ECHA by the end of November if they used or imported more than one tonne per year, and any industrial chemical of which they used or imported more than 1,000 tonnes per year.

Companies which failed to register certain types of substances by the deadline are no longer allowed to manufacture, import or use that substance as of Wednesday.

"Most of the registrations came from companies based in Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Belgium," ECHA said in a statement, with Germany accounting for 23 percent and Britain 12 percent of registered chemicals.

Vaananen said the creation of the massive database will make it much easier to police the use of .

ECHA expects to scrutinise around five percent of the files to make sure the chemicals are being properly handled and tested.

"If they propose testing on animals, then we have to evaluate it and check whether testing is necessary or not," Vaananen said.

One major change for the industry is that companies will be required to release information gathered from to other companies, to minimise the need for duplicate testing on animals.

Next year, the database will be made public online, where anyone can search for information on a specific chemical.

Wednesday's report was the first step in an undertaking aimed at listing every industrial chemical imported or used in the EU in a single searchable database.

By the final deadline, on May 31, 2018, every industrial chemical, no matter how little of it is used, is supposed to be included in the catalogue.

Explore further: U.S. criticizes planned EU chemicals law

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