Toxic Substances and REACH
In June 2008, the German Advisory Council on the Environment (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen, SRU) published the Environmental Report 2008: Environmental Protection in the Shadow of Climate Change. The report provides a comprehensive evaluation of national and European environmental policies covering 2004 to 2008. Key sections of the SRU report dealing with German national environmental policy approaches are being made available in English in a series of volumes.
The translation of the third volume is now complete and will be of interest to policy makers and practitioners interested in chemicals policy. The volume covers risk assessment and regulatory evaluation, focusing on selected chemical substances. The first two chapters analyse the possible adverse environmental and health effects of manufactured nanomaterials and brominated flame retardants and makes recommendations for risk reduction measures. In the third chapter, the entry into force of the European Chemicals Regulation REACH is taken as an occasion to describe the basic structures of this new regulation and to acknowledge the opportunities it provides to improve chemical safety. Nevertheless, the SRU warns that capacity problems at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and in the Member States may arise and these could weaken the implementation of REACH. The final two chapters examine the existing and planned regulations for pesticides and for mercury. The Council concludes in both cases that the efficacy of the regulation with regard to environmental protection is not sufficient and recommends additional measures.