ECHA chemicals database launched

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Better European chemicals agency

ECHA chemicals database launched
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has launched a publicly-accessible database with key information on around 15,000 chemicals, aimed at researchers, regulatory authorities and businesses.

The aim of making the data available, according to the ECHA, is to improve the safe use of chemicals, enable innovation and help avoid the unnecessary testing of chemicals on animals.

The data is available on the ECHA website,​ and is pulled from the REACH study results: a collection of non-confidential substance data that was submitted to the ECHA under the REACH regulation.

This information covers the intrinsic properties of each substance and their impact on human health and the environment. The data comes directly from companies who make or import the substances and have registered them with ECHA.

What is the data?

According to the ECHA, the data includes specific parts of the information published online, respecting the ownership rights of companies who submitted the data.

For example, the industry body notes, the downloadable data includes the results from studies conducted by companies, but not the full summary.

The ECHA notes that the available material does not include the data companies have claimed confidential in their registrations. This corresponds to a limited amount of data for around 2% of dossiers submitted to ECHA.

How can it be used?

Researchers and regulators could use the data to develop new ways of determining the toxicity of chemicals minimising the need to test them on animals, the ECHA states.

Companies can use it to improve the way in which they use chemicals, for example, by improving their safety data sheets and the classification and labelling of their substances and products. The data may be used only after agreeing to the terms and conditions, and not for registration under REACH.

“ECHA uses the data submitted by companies on a daily basis. In particular, we identify substances of concern that need to be controlled in order to protect human health and the environment. Making this data downloadable in a format that can be reused by others is another step towards safer chemicals in Europe​,” says Geert Dancet, ECHA’s Executive Director.

Why release the data?

The ECHA states that it hopes its releasing of this information will have a positive impact on safe use of chemicals on a worldwide scale.

Industry figures have suggested that the database will improve chemical transparency and promote knowledge-sharing.

Jerker Ligthart from the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) says: “By releasing this data ECHA takes a step in the right direction in terms of chemical transparency and it will allow for better in-depth analysis of groups of chemicals instead of the substance-by-substance approach as of today. We hope that this feature will allow faster and earlier identification of substances of concern for companies to substitute and take better informed decisions when developing new products.”

“It is important that ECHA has improved the access to REACH registration data without jeopardising the data ownership,​” says Marco Mensink, Director General of Cefic, the European chemical industry association. “With the available data, a better understanding of toxicology can be developed which will help to further reduce animal testing. It is a win-win for all stakeholders.”

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