REACH (Registration, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) is the system for controlling chemicals out on the market in Europe. Since 1st January 2021, EU REACH was replaced by UK REACH with some changes as highlighted below.
Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the subsequent transition period, the EU REACH Regulation has been brought into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. REACH, and related legislation, have been replicated in the UK with the necessary changes to make it operable in a domestic context. The key principles of the EU REACH Regulation have been retained.
Downstream UK users will now be classed as am Importer if purchasing chemicals at or above 1 tonne per year (cumulative over the calendar year) from the EU/EEA as well as out with the EU area, as before. The HSE have given details on the process of being an Importer, in particular the requirement to complete the Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) within 300 days of the 1st January plus either 2, 4 or 6 years of the end of the transition period, depending on tonnage band and/or hazard profile. If you wish to continue importing into the UK from the EU/EEA, you need to:
- Submit a new registration to the Agency (which is the HSE) for each substance that you wish to continue importing after the relevant deadline (see table at https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/duin.htm), complying with the full information requirement for your tonnage band under UK REACH. The first step to any new registration is to submit an Article 26 inquiry. The information requirements for registration under UK REACH are identical to the requirements of EU REACH.
University specific guidance – updated to reflect UK REACH where appropriate
Personal guidance (during EU REACH introduction) from the Health and Safety Executive points out that as a university, it would seem unlikely that we will need to register any chemicals - unless a School has any significant direct imports from outside the EU (Please note, with UK REACH, chemicals purchased from the EU/EEA may need to be imported, see above for more specific details). We understand that the >one tonne limit for registration is cumulative and applies to total amounts imported by a manufacturer into the UK. Regarding the possibility of a university needing to seek authorisation for the use of a substance eventually listed in Annex XIV of REACH, our attention was drawn to Article 56 (3) of REACH. This indicates that the authorisation provision shall not apply to the use of substances in scientific research and development.
It would however be prudent if Schools using chemicals that are classed as “of very high concern” e.g. CMR’s (Substances that are, Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Toxic to Reproduction), PBT’s (Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic Chemicals), vPvB’s (very Persistent, very Bioaccumulative chemicals) and those identified from scientific evidence as causing probable serious effects to humans or the environment, equivalent to those above on a case-by-case basis, such as endocrine disrupters, contact their suppliers to ensure that they are aware of their importance to you, that supply is to continue and that these chemicals will be registered by them should this be necessary.
Historical and updated information regarding the introduction and purpose of EU/UK REACH
It became law in the UK on the 1st June 2007, but many of the duties it places on manufacturers, importers and downstream users of chemicals will be phased in over time until 2013. The earliest significant duty is for manufacturers and importers of chemical substances to pre-register with the Agency. This is required between June 2008 and the end of November 2008.
REACH places the onus on manufacturers and importers of chemicals to register their chemicals for particular uses and to provide enhanced Safety Data Sheets, Exposure Scenarios and risk management measures to downstream users of their products, if those products are manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities in excess of 1 tonne per annum. A new type of exposure limit will appear, the DNEL (Derived No Effect Level), for a detailed explanation of a DNEL please go to the British Occupational Hygiene Society’s website.
It is anticipated that many chemicals will be withdrawn from the market to avoid the costs of REACH, and substitution will become mandatory for many more.
A number of UK authorities have enforcing authority under UK REACH. These can be found at https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/authorities.htm
REACH would appear to be a rather complicated item of legislation, but there is much guidance available and the following links are recommended: