New Classification and Labelling Inventory opens way to safer use of hazardous substances
A big step towards a safer use of hazardous chemicals was taken today with the publication of the first EU Classification and Labelling Inventory. Released by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), it lists the classification of all the chemical substances used in the EU which allows identifying those that are potentially hazardous and may damage health and the environment. The aim is to provide industry, and in particular small companies, with easy access to information on the hazardousness of a given substance, facilitating the task to correctly classify and label substances and mixtures, as well as substitution of hazardous substances with less damaging alternatives where feasible.
The Inventory compiles information from over 3 million notifications for more than 100.000 substances submitted by manufacturers and importers in the framework of the Classification and Labelling Regulation (CLP)1 or registered under the REACH Regulation.2 Classification is essential to the safe use of chemicals because it indicates whether a chemical is hazardous and can damage health or the environment, and it determines the content of the labels of products used by workers and consumers. The Inventory should also help to promote a uniform classification of hazardous substances in Europe and in the world.
European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: “This first inventory will make it easier for companies – including small businesses – to classify and label chemicals correctly. Again Europe is a frontrunner and publication of the Inventory will promote safer use of chemicals world-wide”.
Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for Environment said: “This Inventory will increase transparency and improve safety for all those handling chemicals. It will help industry to select less hazardous chemicals and ultimately enable downstream users and consumers to choose products less harmful for health and the environment.”
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Towards harmonised classifications for all hazardous substances
The inventory published today will greatly enhance the availability of information on the classification of all substances placed on the market in the EU. Based on experience from the past, it is to be expected that the inventory contains divergent information for identical substances, as different classifications may have been notified by different companies for the same hazardous substance. This stems mainly from impurities contained in substances or different information used by companies to classify the same substance. The Inventory will be a basis for companies to undertake efforts to agree on a uniform classification for a given substances as required by the CLP Regulation. In order to assist companies in this process, ECHA will develop a specific communication tool that will facilitate contacts among manufacturers and importers of chemicals, who wish to discuss reasons for differences and, where feasible, agree on a uniform classification. Manufacturers and importers of chemicals are encouraged to check the classifications for their substances in the Inventory and update their notifications if necessary. ECHA will regularly update the content of the Inventory.
The main objective of the CLP Regulation is to protect human health and the environment. It also aims to facilitate the functioning of the internal market by harmonising the classification of substances and mixtures.
The Regulation is in line with the United Nations Globally Harmonised System for classification and labelling (GHS). The aim of GHS is to achieve global convergence of classification systems for chemicals, which will facilitate trade and improve the level of protection, in particular in countries that so far have not yet used such systems.
The responsibility for classifying substances and for agreeing on their uniform classification lies with industry. However, for substances with particularly severe hazards – such as substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction – Member State authorities and ECHA review all available information and propose harmonised classifications which the Commission makes mandatory through legislation.