Regulations & EHS&S

Evaluation activities sped up by assessing chemicals in groups

In 2020, ECHA checked 1 900 chemicals to identify a need for further assessment. Registrations for 258 chemicals were also checked for compliance with the REACH requirements. Better quality safety data from companies is still needed to clarify the long-term effects of chemicals.

Checking similar chemicals in groups helps ECHA to select substances more efficiently for assessment. This is one more step towards achieving the legal goal of checking the compliance of 20 % of all registration dossiers in every tonnage band.

In 2020, ECHA checked 1 900 substances and conducted 271 compliance checks addressing 258 substances in 240 draft decisions. This led to 1 365 requests to generate information for clarifying the long-term effects on human health or the environment. These include effects on the development of unborn children, reproductive toxicity or genetic mutations; or, further clarifications on persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic properties of chemicals in the environment. ECHA also examined 130 proposals from industry to carry out further testing on their chemicals.

Bjorn Hansen, ECHA’s Executive Director says: “We have a responsibility towards Europe’s citizens to make sure that chemicals data is correct and up to date. By checking chemicals in groups, we continue our assessment at full speed. Companies also need to speed up and review their registration dossiers. I welcome industry’s voluntary action plans on updating dossiers which many companies have already joined.”

Substance evaluation is done by Member States to clarify if the use of a substance poses risks to people or the environment. In 2020, clearer drafting of the decisions and work in expert groups resulted in faster decision-making. ECHA adopted 18 substance evaluation decisions, requesting further information to assess the safety of substances of potential concern. Member States further concluded the assessment of 13 substances indicating a need for further regulatory follow-up action at EU level.

ECHA’s evaluation statistics overview presents a full breakdown of the numbers. The Agency has updated its recommendations for companies on how they can improve their registration data.

To increase transparency, ECHA also publishes for the first time a list of the substances evaluated in 2020. This list includes full details on the information requests that have been issued to companies as part of ECHA’s decisions.

Background: cooperation with industry

ECHA and the European Commission’s REACH Evaluation Joint Action Plan foresees actions for industry: to regularly review information on their chemicals and to update their registrations when necessary, also by generating new information.

ECHA supports industry organisations in developing voluntary testing strategies. This helps companies avoid unnecessary animal testing and costs. They can meet the legal obligations for their registration dossiers without the need to test each substance individually. Lessons learnt from pilot studies were published in January 2021 and can be applied to future testing strategies.