Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Architect of the REACH Regulation" Calls for UN Panel on Chemicals

Margot Wallström is European Commission vice-president and the force behind the development and passage of the European Union's Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) regulation.

She is also now a conference room.

Okay, technically she isn't herself a conference room. But one of the two conference rooms in the new European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) conference center inaugurated April 3rd is named after her (the second is named after Guido Sacconi, the European Parliament's rapporteur for REACH). The new conference center, located at ECHA headquarters in Helsinki, Finland, is one of the most modern facilities available, including computer panels and microphones for each of the 200 seats.

In her invited remarks at the inauguration Ms. Wallström called for a new high level UN panel that would "tackle the risks from chemicals in the same way that the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is doing for climate change." The new UN panel would consist of a team of independent researchers. While she didn't provide further details at the ECHA event, you can read more about it here (assuming you can read Swedish).

Mr. Sacconi, while not present at the ECHA unveiling, recently made the news as he, in conjunction with Europe's largest trade union, published a list of 306 chemicals that they consider to be of very high concern.

Ms. Wallström isn't the only one calling for more chemical control. Dr Thomas Jakl, Chairman of ECHA’s Management Board, in response to a question from the students about the role of consumers, implored them to "be active, seek out information on chemicals...ask manufacturers what is in the products that you buy. Man made chemicals are in the blood of every single one of us – they should be a matter of concern for us all.”

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