REACH (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals.
This regulation entered into force on 1 June 2007. It applies, in principle, to all chemicals substances and places the burden of the proof on industry. Companies must identify and manage the risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market in the EU. They have to demonstrate to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) how the substance can be safely used, and they must communicate the risk management measures to the users.
If the risks cannot be managed, authorities can restrict the use of substances in different ways. In the long run, the most hazardous substances should be substituted with less dangerous ones.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) was created to drive the implementation of the EU chemicals legislation, including REACH, for the benefit of human health and the environment as well as for innovation and competitiveness. ECHA helps companies to comply with the legislation, advances the safe use of chemicals, provides information on chemicals and addresses chemicals of concern. ECHA also publishes information included in the registrations dossiers on its website, which is freely available for all European citizens, although parts of the dossier can be claimed confidential.
You can find detailed information on REACH and other EU chemicals legislation on ECHA website.