Chemical Labelling Revisions Tabled
On 27 June 2007, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, with the aim of aligning the EU system with the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (UN GHS). If adopted, this should prove beneficial to manufacturers in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, as the harmonisation of requirements at a global level should remove separate labelling requirements for products being imported into the EU. The proposed Regulation is also designed to complement the new REACH Regulation.
The current EU classification and labelling system for chemicals is set out in three key instruments which are based on a high level of protection concerning health, safety, environmental and consumer protection:
The dangerous substances Directive (67/548/EEC) The dangerous preparations Directive (1999/45/EC) The safety data sheet Directive (91/155/EEC -- this Directive has been repealed and replaced by the REACH Regulation as of 1 June 2007) The first two of the abovementioned Directives set out rules on the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances and preparations. The third Directive ensured that suppliers of substances and preparations gave information about the hazards of their chemicals and guidance on safe use to professional customers; these provisions have been taken up in the REACH Regulation.
First, the proposed Regulation will harmonise the classification, labelling and packaging rules for substances and mixtures. Second, it will oblige enterprises to classify their substances and mixtures themselves and to notify the classifications. Third, it aims to establish a harmonised list of substances classified at Community level and fourth it will provide for a labelling inventory, made up of all notifications and harmonised classifications referred to above. An example of the change in labelling is the following symbol for chemicals which are extremely flammable:
Current system Proposed system F+ Danger
Extremely Flammable Extremely flammable (liquid and
The proposal will now go before the European Parliament and the Council, with the aim of requiring the reclassification of substances by 1 December 2010 and of mixtures by 1 June 2015. Additional Commission proposals are also expected, in order to adapt EU legislation to the new rules. When adopted, the Regulation will repeal the currently existing EU Directives on classification and labelling (Directives 67/548/EEC on the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances and 1999/45/EC concerning the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous preparations).
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