EU: Using modern technology to satisfy the REACH regulations
- All Europeans in Nanotech
This message may interest you because Nanotechnology is one of the
emerging technologies which can replace older technologies for all
future testing of chemicals. The European Commission must realise
that the toxicity of chemicals covered by the REACH regulations can
best be determined with increased reliance on modern technology.
1st of June 2008 was an important day for the New European Chemical
Testing Policy called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation
& restriction of CHemicals). In Helsinki, Finland, the European
Chemicals Agency which manages the implementation of this legislation
started the process of pre-registration of existing substances.
Before 1981 in Europe chemicals were put on the market without being
adequately safety tested. REACH aims to classify the toxicity of
about 30,000 substances used in quantities of over 1 tonne a year but
still depends significantly on animal testing. When you consider the
technological advances that have been made in recent years and that
many animal tests have remained unchanged for over 60 years this may
not be good enough. As this will ultimately determine which chemicals
will be allowed to be used in Europe and which will not this will
make a profound difference to the number of hazardous chemicals in
The European Commission has estimated that Reach will cost industry
between 2.8bn and 5.2bn euros over 11 years. This will be an
inefficient use of resources if reliance is on outdated animal
testing instead of making the most of new technological advances.
Many alternatives exist which are quicker, cheaper and more reliable
than animal tests. However, for these to be trusted and validated
takes investment and a commitment to make medical progress a
priority. REACH must make sure that all chemicals are tested with the
most accurate and trustworthy methods and new techniques must be
developed if only animal testing is available.
The criteria necessary to validate alternatives are strict and
comprehensive. Validated alternatives are legally trusted as suitable
replacements for animal tests. However, the European Commission's
list of approved methods does not include non-animal techniques that
were approved for scientific validity in 2007 by the European Centre
for the Validation of Alternative Methods ( ECVAM ). This is a delay
which has been criticised by the MEPs of the European parliament
because it will encourage companies to avoid using validated human
based alternatives and continue using animal tests instead. ECVAM
does important work but if they are to achieve what we all want - a
comprehensive system of scientific tests to accurately find and
eliminate all toxic chemicals from the environment - their efforts
must be supported and acknowledged.
Concerned citizens can contact their MEPs and ask them to support at
every opportunity the validation and approval of alternative methods
for all future testing of chemicals.
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