Issue Date: June 23, 2008
REACH For Carbon
Health and safety data on all forms of carbon sold in the European Union will soon be required, according to the first European Commission (EC) proposal to amend the Registration, Evaluation & Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) program. Representatives of EU governments voted in favor of removing an exemption for carbon under REACH to close a loophole in the law that allows nanoscale forms of carbon to be sold without testing.
Environmental groups applaud the proposal but say that it is just a first step in ensuring the safety of nanomaterials. REACH applies only to chemicals produced in volumes greater than 1 metric ton per year per company, says Ninja Reineke, a senior policy officer on chemicals at the international conservation organization World Wildlife Fund. Many nanoparticles are produced in small volumes and would therefore still be exempt from testing under REACH, she adds.
The impact of the proposal on the chemical industry is unclear. EC officials say they are looking into the possibility of distinguishing between nanocarbon and larger sized carbon. Initially, EU member states asked EC to require registration of only the nanoscale carbon, Reineke says. However, REACH applies to substances rather than specific forms of substances, so it was not possible to differentiate between the forms under current law, she says.
The proposal is expected to go into effect within the next three months, following final EU approval.
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