November 17, 2005

EU parliament backs new law on toxic chemicals

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - The European Parliament
sought on Thursday to protect people from toxic substances,
backing a landmark new law that for years pitted Europe's
chemicals industry against environmental groups.

Lawmakers voted in favor of an amended bill on
Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals
(REACH), designed to make companies prove that substances in
everyday products like cars, computers or paint are safe.

Under REACH, the properties of roughly 30,000 chemicals
produced or imported in the European Union would have to be
registered with a central agency. Those of highest concern,
such as carcinogens, would require authorization to be used.

The bill approved on Thursday included a compromise that
largely reduced the number of chemicals requiring testing.

Lawmakers also supported a measure that would force firms
to substitute safe chemicals for hazardous ones when
alternatives are available.

The regulation must still be agreed by EU member states and
may come back to the legislature again before it can become a