in this issue
Reach: Alternative Tests of Long-term Toxicity Require Discussion
8:25 AM MDT | April 17, 2012 | By GEERT DANCET
By Geert Dancet, Executive Director, ECHA
We in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA; Helsinki) are now looking forward to the fourth Helsinki Chemicals Forum in May. This event has become a cornerstone of my annual calendar as it is the perfect place to openly discuss the most topical questions on safe use of chemicals with all stakeholders. I am proud that I have been able to assist in establishing this Forum, which attracts hundreds of participants from all over the world.
Again, the HCF programme contains interesting topics for debate. As Executive Director of the European Chemicals Agency, I am also happy to note that a number of panels will see some of my colleagues either chairing or contributing to the lively and enlightening discussions.
One of the hottest topics will be on the use of alternative methods to test long-term toxicity. Given the legal mandate of my Agency to promote alternative test methods, a panel identifying the bottlenecks for their regulatory acceptance could not be of greater relevance to me and my work. Having our Director of Regulatory Affairs as a moderator of this panel is an expression of this interest.
Over the last year, my Agency has taken great strides in disseminating hazard and safety information on chemical substances placed on the EU Internal Market. ECHA has also published a complete C&L Inventory of the re-classification of hazardous substances notified to the Agency in line with the globally harmonised system for classification. Our new website permits you to search these databases in a duly customer-friendly manner from the homepage. So far industry, specialised NGOs, associations and media active in the chemicals sector are most regularly accessing this information. But our Director for Registration will explain how we actually can reach citizens better in the future in a panel chaired by our Director of Co-operation.
There are two more panel debates to which I am looking forward with keen interest. I recall that a panel at the HCF 2011 discussed first experiences in implementing REACH. It concluded that the European regulatory system is a trailblazer for the world, but that it cannot be simply replicated elsewhere, for instance in emerging economies. Nonetheless, only recently India has stated to aim for a “REACH-like” legislation; South Korea is in the process of adopting a new chemicals safety regime very much akin to REACH. Evidently, an effective regulatory approach cannot be designed in many different ways. As Head of an EU Agency with a vision of aspiring to become the world’s leading regulatory authority on the safety of chemicals, I see that this trend imposes a great responsibility on my agency. In this light, I am looking forward to the debate on the convergence of regulatory systems.
In short, looking through this year’s programme, there is not a single element which one can miss out on. The debate on the substitution of chemicals is another high-profile topic of the political debate on chemicals safety. The Forum’s topics are so relevant that a considerable number of ECHA’s scientific staff will attend the Forum as part of their professional development.
I thus hope to meet you in person on my agenda’s cornerstone event!
Executive Director ECHA
Advisory Board member of the Helsinki Chemicals Forum
Helsinki Chemicals Forum on 24-25 May 2012 in Helsinki, Finland.
See the program and find out more: www.helsinkicf.eu