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No. 138/11 | Berlin, 09.11.2011

Amendment to Chemicals Act enters into force

Improved labelling of chemicals and toxicity information

Germany has prepared the ground for the national enforcement of the EU CLP regulation with the amendment of the Chemicals Act which has entered into force today. EU regulation 1272/2008/EU on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, referred to as the CLP regulation, which was approved at the end of 2008, lays down new provisions for the classification and labelling of hazardous substances on the basis of a UN-wide agreed system.

In addition to new classification provisions, the visual appearance of chemical labelling will change substantially. For example, the previous labels with danger symbols on an orange background will be replaced by labels similar to traffic signs with a hazard pictogram on a white background with a red frame. Thus the classification and labelling of chemicals is now based on uniform standards all over the world. They provide basic information of hazardous substance characteristics and safe use. In addition, the new act contributes to improving health protection by extending the reporting obligations concerning the composition of mixtures to poisoning information and treatment centres. For the first time all hazardous mixtures including commercial products are now covered by this reporting obligation, thus significantly increasing the knowledge base of these centres in case of emergencies.

As directly enforceable EU law the CLP regulation does not need to be transposed into national law. However, the adaption of the national chemicals law establishes the legal conditions for an efficient enforcement of the regulation in Germany, determines the responsibilities of the various authorities and repeals stipulations which are no longer relevant. The regulation provides for a transitional period up to 2015 in which parts of the previous law will be continued either as options or obligatory measures. For this reason, for the time being the transparency of the previous legislation has to be maintained and the stipulations adjusted accordingly in order to allow for a smooth parallel application of both systems.

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