At the EU level, human health and the environment are protected from chemicals through extensive legislation and a number of restrictions. The production, import, placing on the market or specific uses of substances may be restricted. All or specific uses of a particular substance may also be prohibited.
There are four main regulations on chemicals in EU legislation. The REACH regulation governs the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. It requires companies to provide information on the substances they produce or import. If a chemical cannot be used safely, measures can be taken to manage its risks. The Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP Regulation) ensures that professional and general users of hazardous chemicals are provided with information on their hazards and safe use. These are indicated on labels with standardised sentences and hazard pictograms.
Biocidal products are covered by the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR), which lays down the obligation of providing information on how consumers can use these products safely. The rules for the export of hazardous chemicals, meanwhile, are defined by the Prior Informed Consent Regulation (PIC). In addition, certain groups of chemicals, such as those in cosmetics, plant protection products and detergents and persistent organic pollutants, are governed by specific legislation. The implementation of legislation is monitored by the Chemicals Inspectorate, which may, inter alia, prohibit companies that fail to comply with their obligations from distributing the chemicals and may also impose fines on them.
Understanding and monitoring the impact of chemicals on people and their living environment is important for designing policies aimed at protecting health and the environment from chemicals.
The Chemicals Office thus carries out multi-annual human biomonitoring programmes and projects, the results of which will be used by experts to assess human exposure to chemicals, to better understand the effects of chemicals on health and to improve chemical risk assessments.