14 October 2002 08:37 [Source: ICIS news]
Small to medium sized chemical companies are going to need all the help they can get when the European Union (EU) finally introduces a new chemicals registration system. (The EU’s proposed REACH registration system is currently being reviewed as part of the European Commission (EC) chemicals white paper proposals). Chemical control is getting tougher and the smaller companies in particular are under considerable pressure to keep up.
It is good to hear, therefore, that Britain’s Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC) is stepping in to offer producers in the UK independent advice on chemical regulation. The man in charge of the new LGC regulatory advice service (RAS), Bob Scott, makes the critical point that to remain competitive companies need to understand and keep abreast of the regulatory climate in which they operate so they can react quickly and efficiently when changes occur.
The scale of the potential problem when a new registration system finally comes into effect is enormous. Across Europe, governments and their agencies are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of a new testing regime.
The UK’s RAS will provide free guidance and technical advice to producers and users of chemicals about current and emerging chemical and environmental legislation. The service was established in response to studies which highlighted the fact that few companies have the combination of regulatory and technical expertise in the same person. This skills gap highlighted the need for a national resource offering independent advice on specific testing and regulatory issues.
The LGC is approaching this problem from the technical angle – studies by the UK Analytical Partnership, of which the LGC is a member, highlighted the critical issues. However, the LGC is mainly offering an e-mail and internet based advice service as well as an interactive forum in which users can exchange views on chemicals regulation. The LGC plays a key role with the support of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the UK’s 'government chemist' programme which scrutinises new chemicals regulation and checks that it is soundly based in analytical science and that the measurements necessary are what it calls "feasible and reliable".
The practical aspects of the proposed REACH system and the wider implications of the chemicals white paper are coming to the fore and to the extent that some in the chemicals industry do not expect the EC to lay draft legislation before the European Parliament until next year. The Commission was due to present its proposals in September this year. In The Netherlands, the government is preparing to run a ‘quick scan’ programme to weed out the most hazardous products before extensive testing begins. It is believed that the scheme would enable quicker and cheaper implementation of future REACH regulations which could be particularly costly and burdensome.
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