The draft legislation – called Reach – relates to the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals. An eight-week consultation on the proposals has closed.
Under Reach, more than 30,000 chemicals would have to be toxic tested to determine whether or not they were dangerous in their current form or on disposal. This could costs the industry £22.5bn, according to the Commission.
Fears have been sparked that the suppliers of chemicals used in paints and oils would be unwilling to invest in testing and could withdraw the products from the market. If this happens, many paints and oils would have to be reformulated.
Under the rules, repairers will be forced to pay for an assessment of the risks such chemicals pose to their workers and to customers. Simon Walters, PPG UK marketing manager, says the rules are “burdensome and bureaucratic” and is urging trade associations to voice their concerns.
There is no timetable for implementation yet but Walters believes it could be as soon as 2005. It is not clear how the system will be policed or managed, or even how the chemicals would be registered.
Officials from Britain, France, Germany and the US have voiced their concerns saying the approach is unworkable and will have a negative impact. One alternative is to focus the legislation on substances that are thought to pose health risks, rather than testing all 30,000-plus chemicals, some of which date back to 1981.