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European Parliament approves toxic chemicals regulation

[JURIST] The European Parliament [official website] approved a legislative package [press release] Thursday which will allow safety-testing for thousands of chemicals used in everyday products. The Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals Act (REACH) [EU backgrounder; BBC Q/A] calls for the registration of approximately 30,000 chemicals produced or imported in the European Union. Authorization would be required for use of those chemicals causing high concern, such as carcinogens, but a compromise [JURIST report] on the bill reached by the European Commission [official website] may allow up to two-thirds of the registered chemicals to be exempt from safety tests. A new European chemicals agency will determine whether chemicals used in low volumes should be tested. MEPs also added a clause to the law which will create obligations for firms to use safe chemicals rather than hazardous ones, whenever a substitute can be made. REACH has continued to be a very controversial measure, with many employers arguing that the law will impose heavy costs which will provide an incentive for firms to move their businesses outside of Europe. The regulation must be approved by individual national governments before it will take effect. BBC News has more.

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