According to the Los Angeles Times, the European Parliament's recent approval of the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals law will have far reaching consequences on U.S. industries. The law regulates about 30,000 hazardous substances, including 1,500 that will be restricted heavily if not banned outright. Among those are chemicals like lead commonly used in electronics and other everyday items made in the United States.

"This will have a huge impact well beyond the chemical industry," says Steven Russell, senior director of the American Chemistry Council. "REACH does not limit its provisions to trade in chemicals but also [affects] trade in products, from airplanes to adhesive tape It applies equally to products made in Europe and products made outside Europe...It's a poor use of time, energy and resources. A really historic amount of work and expense will have to focus on the implementation. As a result, there will be fewer resources available for innovation and research and development."

The directive, to be phased in over 11 years beginning in June, will cost E.U. industries up to $6 billion. The toll on U.S. industries has not been estimated yet.      EC