Earlier this week I attended a day-long seminar at a DC law firm that provided a status report on implementation of REACH, the ground-breaking regulatory program for chemicals under construction in the European Union.  In a landmark “paradigm shift,” the entry-into-force of REACH in 2007 made suppliers, not government, responsible for assuring their products are safe before they are allowed to enter (or remain on) the market.  There were many take-aways from the various presentations at the seminar, but for me the most vivid was the breathtaking cost and resource burden this regulation now imposes on the global manufacturing industry.  We heard detailed reports from lawyers and consultants who are helping companies execute their obligations under REACH about the problems and uncertainties they face, the market disruptions that are inevitably appearing, and the growing momentum for similar legislation in the US.   The one thing we didn’t hear about, however, was whether the European population is, or will be, any safer once the full impact of REACH is realized throughout the continent.  Many of us will be anxiously awaiting this benefits report, if it ever appears.



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