REACH Regulation and Nanomaterials

On February 6, 2012, CIEL released “Just Out of Reach: How REACH Is Failing to Regulate Nanomaterials and How it Can Be Fixed,” a comprehensive report detailing why the European Union’s reliance on REACH regulations is not enough to ensure consumer safety against nanomaterial danger.

The study documents four key gaps for nanomaterials in the registration phase of REACH, an essential step that requires chemical manufacturers and importers to provide key health and safety information:

  1. REACH does not define nanomaterials, and contains no nano-specific provisions;
  2. Most nanomaterials evade registration until 2018, yet they can still enter the EU market;
  3. REACH’s schedule for registration hinges on the number of tonnes of a chemical, essentially missing all nanomaterials, which are generally produced in far smaller quantities; and
  4. REACH test guidelines fail to consider the special properties of nanomaterials.

Rather than re-opening REACH, the report proposes developing a stand-alone regulation, carefully aligned with the chemical rules, but specifically tailored to nanomaterials. Such a regulation would establish clear, legally binding provisions for nanomaterials and create a transparent and predictable legal environment for the safe production and use of nanomaterials in the EU.

At the current moment, the EU has yet to actualize any legislation that would regulate nanomaterials.