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REACHing Asia: Recent trends in chemical regulations of China, Japan and Korea

Will EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances) influence and change the chemical regulatory systems of Asia, as EU RoHS has done in China, Japan and Korea? The answer is YES. China, Japan and Korea are (or will be) filling the regulatory gap they see between REACH and their chemical regulatory systems. With its advanced chemical regulatory system under the Law on the Control of Examination and Manufacture of Chemical Substances, Japan has established a sound chemical control system.

In order to better control existing chemicals, Japan operates the Japan Challenge Program, which is a risk assessment program for high production volume (HPV) chemicals, together with 47 companies and 2 associations since October 2005. Korea is quickly incorporating REACH-like aspects in the Toxic Chemicals Control Act. Pursuant to the proposed Enforcement Ordinance of 26 February 2008, the Ministry of the Environment would require 9 toxicity studies of new chemicals by the end of 2008 and 13 toxicity studies by 2011.

Some existing chemicals (e.g. chemicals manufactured over 100 tons per year) would be required to submit data for the hazard review. Since the enactment of the Measures on the Environmental Management of New Chemical Substances on 12 September 2003, China has worked hard by issuing series of implementing measures, e.g. Technical Rules on Toxicity Testing of Chemicals of 11 July 2005, Guideline on Good Laboratory Practices for Chemical Testing of 1 June 2004, Guideline for Chemical Testing (HJ/T153-2004). However the chemical control system in still at its initial stage.

This article will describe the current chemical regulatory systems of EU, China, Japan and Korea, analyze how Asian countries deal with the regulatory gap between REACH and their systems, and discuss how businesses will be forced to deal with this foreseen trend in Asia.

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