Which chemicals are of concern?
Any chemical which could potentially cause harm is considered to be hazardous. Certain chemicals can cause different types of harm, ranging from mild skin irritation to cancer. They can also have significant impacts on the environment, including the air, water and land; and they may adversely affect plants and animals.
A chemical can only cause harm to our health or to the environment, if we are exposed to it. To protect ourselves from hazardous chemicals, they have to be handled in a suitable way so that exposure can be reduced to an acceptable level – or they need to be replaced by safer alternatives.
A substance is classified at EU level when it has certain harmful properties. The full inventory of classified substances is available on ECHA's website. You can also find out how such substances should be labelled.
A wide variety of regulatory protective measures apply to hazardous chemicals under REACH and other EU legislation. For example, there are restrictions on the supply to consumers of many hazardous substances. Others can only be placed on the market if a specific use has been authorised.