December 5, 2019

European Chemicals Agency Maps Its "Chemical Universe"

The European Chemicals Agency has mapped its “chemical universe,” which comprises a list of more than 21,000 substances registered under REACH, the European Union’s Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals. The substances on ECHA’s list are divided into five “pools” based on the regulatory actions associated with each chemical. The five pools comprise substances with confirmed hazards for human health and the environment; substances that are being considered for regulatory risk management; substances that require additional information to conclude whether further regulatory action is needed; substances for which EU authorities have not currently proposed further regulatory action; and substances that are registered under REACH but not yet assigned to any of the other pools.

ECHA’s chemical universe is intended to help EU authorities focus their regulatory actions associated with registered substances. The agency stresses that the list does not indicate whether a substance’s use is safe. According to ECHA, substances’ assignments to a pool will change over time as new information becomes available or as authorities’ priorities change.

A figure that depicts ECHA’s mapping of the REACH chemical universe shows that possible regulatory actions have not yet been determined for more than 18,000 registered substances.

“We are currently focusing mostly on the substances registered for volumes greater than 100 tonnes per year, where we aim to assign each substance to one of the pools by the end of 2020,” said Jack de Bruijn, ECHA’s director for Prioritization and Integration.

ECHA intends to draw similar conclusions for all remaining registered substances by the end of 2027. Further details are available in the agency’s press release.