REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals. REACH is a European Union Regulation of 18 December 2006. REACH addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment. REACH entered into force in June 2007, with a phased implementation over the next decade.

REACH compliance also addresses the continued use of chemical ‘Substances of Very High Concern’ (SVHC) because of their potential negative impacts on human health or the environment. From 1 June 2011, the European Chemicals Agency must be notified of the presence of SVHCs in articles if the total quantity used is more than one tonne per year and the SVHC is present at more than 0.1% of the mass of the object.

REACH regulation applies to all chemicals imported or produced in the EU, in contrast to the US Toxic Substances Control Act which only applies to chemicals newly coming into use. The European Chemicals Agency will manage the technical, scientific and administrative aspects of the REACH system.

About 143,000 chemical substances are covered under REACH.

The REACH Regulation gives greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances. Manufacturers and importers will be required to gather information on the properties of their chemical substances, which will allow their safe handling, and to register the information in a central database run by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki.