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REACH - the new European chemicals legislation


REACH is the name for the new European chemicals legislation. It stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemicals. It entered into force on 1 June 2007. In its capacity as the competent agency for the health assessment of chemicals and products, BfR played a major role in shaping the new REACH Regulation which applies equally to all Member States of the European Union.

What will change as a consequence of REACH?

For many chemicals important toxicological and ecotoxicological studies have never been carried out. As the lack of knowledge about toxicity is not labelled, these chemicals appear to be safe. The REACH Regulation will lead to far more chemicals undergoing comprehensive testing than in the past. All existing substances (i.e. substances placed on the market before 1981) with production or import volumes of more than 1 tonne per year must now be systematically tested with regard to their dangerous properties. Up to now, it is assumed that there are around 30,000 of these substances. So far only 3,000 of the so-called new substances had to undergo an assessment of health and environmental risks before being placed on the market.

Both consumers and workers who come into contact with chemicals will benefit from the new REACH Regulation which assigns far greater responsibility to industry for the safe handling of its products. Manufacturers and importers must register the approximately 30,000 chemicals with the new European Chemicals Agency and assess the risks by 2018. To this end, they must prepare chemical safety reports (CSRs) for the first time and document all known tests. Particularly dangerous substances must go through an authorisation procedure. Because of the stiff authorisation requirements, it is expected that substances of this kind will be replaced in the long run by less dangerous ones.

REACH strengthens consumer protection and animal welfare

  • New and “existing substances” must be registered from a production or import volume of one tonne per year and from a volume of 10 tonnes per year they have to go through a safety evaluation.
  • It is no longer the public agencies but manufacturers and importers who have to procure the necessary data and prove that the use of their chemical substances is safe (reversal of the burden of proof). Public agencies can now concentrate on assessment and control.
  • There is an authorisation obligation for carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic and hormonal substances as well as for substances that are not readily degradable in the environment.
  • Products must be labelled when they contain substances of very high concern that require authorisation.
  • Instead of animal experiments, scientifically accepted, alternative test methods should be used as far as possible.
  • Manufacturers must indicate the use to which the substances are to be put and the resulting possible exposure for humans.
  • Users must inform manufacturers when they use the substances in previously unknown areas.
  • Consumers are entitled to ask sellers or manufacturers for information on substances of very high concern and their use.

Consumer information on REACH

Together with the Federal Environmental Ministry, BfR has published a brochure which gives interested people a detailed overview of the principles of chemical safety and the new chemicals legislation. The brochure can be downloaded from the bottom of the page under “Documents” or ordered from the BfR Press and Public Relations Office.

Advice on REACH

A help desk has been set up as the national information office for manufacturers, importers, users of chemical substances and consumers. It is located in the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA). Experts from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) and the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) provide backing in the form of specific information and expert knowledge.



Date Title Size
BfR Opinion No 018/2023
Bisphenol A: BfR proposes health based guidance value, current exposure data are needed for a full risk assessment 1.6 MB
BfR Opinion No 001/2014
REACH: Identification of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) by 2020 23.8 KB


Other documents

Date Title Size
Background Paper on the Position of German Competent Authorities
Nanomaterials and REACH 1.6 MB
BfR Information Nr. 034/2010
BfR criteria for the selection of candidate substances for the authorisation procedure under REACH 28.5 KB


Press releases

Date Title Keywords
BfR research project to enhance the quality of registration dossiers on chemicals chemicals , REACH
Exposure models and better data collection for more consumer safety with chemicals chemicals , consumer protection
REACH Congress 2016: Chemicals in everyday products - How can consumer protection be improved? chemicals
The REACH regulation as an effective way of regulating nanomaterials chemical safety , chemicals , chemicals law , nanomaterials
Which are the requirements for the identification of Substances of Very High Concern in accordance with Article 57 (f) of the REACH regulation? chemical safety , chemicals law
Consumers will soon be afforded better protection against dangerous chemicals
Fewer experimental animals but same degree of safety for consumers!
REACH: An opportunity for more consumer protection
Greater consideration of consumer protection in the planned EU chemicals legislation!
European chemicals legislation REACH must be consumer-friendly
How much consumer protection is actually afforded by the planned EU chemicals legislation?
New EC chemicals legislation: Animal welfare and consumer protection are reconcilable!
Planned European Chemical System means progress for consumer health protection



Date Title Size
REACH Article 57, Buchstabe f: Non-Endocrine Disrupting Human Health Hazards Leading to SVHC Identification 1.5 MB


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