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The Economics of Toxic Substance Control and the REACH Directive

Journal article
Authors Jessica Coria
Published in Review of Environmental Economics and Policy
Volume 12
Issue 2
Pages 342-358
ISSN 1750-6824
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 342-358
Language en
Keywords Q52, Q53, Q58.
Subject categories Economics


The European Union regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorization, and restriction of chemicals — known as the REACH Directive— is intended to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of the thousands of chemicals commonly used in the EU. This article presents an overview of the technical and economic challenges of toxic substance control and discusses how REACH has addressed the challenges of chemical regulation. The article identifies a number of barriers encountered in implementing REACH, including the fact that critical data concerning the toxicological properties of chemicals is missing from about 90 percent of the 184 REACH registration dossiers examined. The article also discusses how the information generated by REACH could be used to develop complementary policies -- such as risk-based taxation -- to better reflect the external effects of harmful chemicals and to provide further incentives for the development of products and processes that minimize the generation and use of hazardous substances. The article concludes by highlighting key insights and guidance for industry, policymakers, and academic researchers that can be derived from this examination of the economics of toxic substance control and REACH.

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