The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation is the most significant recent piece of legislation to affect chemical supply in Europe. One of the main reasons for the legislation is the potential environmental impact of chemicals that can also, in turn, affect human health.

This topic provides an overview of REACH, particularly in relation to its environmental aspects and outlines other systems in place in the EU to manage the fate of hazardous substances in the environment, with some dealing with specific substances, eg mercury, and some dealing with specific processes, eg industrial emissions. It also describes the life cycle stages of a hazardous substance that will all need to be considered with respect to releases to the environment, including manufacture and formulation, distribution, use and disposal and recycling.

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