Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Japan Amends Chemical Control Law

I've documented efforts by Europe, the US, and Canada to change their chemical control laws and/or review their Inventory chemicals. Well, now Japan is getting in on the act. As it has elsewhere, public interest in ensuring the safety of chemical substances has been on the rise in Japan. At the global level, agreements such as the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) have pushed to minimize adverse effects of chemicals on human health and the environment by 2020. Other regional and international efforts have also put pressure on individual countries to enact changes to their long standing chemical control laws.

So at the end of February 2009, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment issued an announcement that a bill to amend the had been submitted to the 171st ordinary session of the Diet. This bill is aimed at introducing a comprehensive control system to minimize the adverse effects of chemical substances on human health and the environment and at ensuring the international consistency of Japanese regulations on chemicals.

The main changes include:

• Companies that have manufactured or imported any chemical substance, including an existing one, in excess of the specified amounts are newly obliged to notify applications containing quantity and other information to the government.

• Upon receipt of those applications, the government screens and prioritizes substances subject to detailed risk assessment. For these substances, the manufacturers/importers may be required to submit information on hazardous properties for government evaluation.

• Based on the evaluation, the government decides whether to regulate the manufacture/used of the substance and its product, etc.

The Japanese amendments reflect changes recently made in Canada (Chemical Management Plan), Europe (REACH), and potentially the United States, which began hearings last week aimed at reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act.

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