The European Union (EU) passed sweeping environmental regulations last month that are intended to control the use of toxic chemicals by industry (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/reach_intro.htm).
The new law, called the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH), will require companies that manufacture or import about 30 000 chemicals in quantities greater than 1 ton per year to register these substances and provide basic hazard and risk information to a new European Chemicals Agency, based in Finland. The Agency will evaluate this information and determine if action, such as banning or restricting the use of a chemical, is needed. The regulation also calls for identifying safer alternatives to chemicals that pose the highest risks to human health.
Stephenson J. European Law Targets Chemicals. JAMA. 2007;297(3):254. doi:10.1001/jama.297.3.254-d