After 2½ years of consultations and studies, last week the European Commission formalized the first bans on chemicals under REACH (Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals). Under the terms of the ban, musk xylene; solvent hardener 4,4'-diaminodiphenylmethane (MDA); flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD); and plasticizers bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) must be phased out, with various sunset dates set between 2014 and 2015.

With this determination, the “authorization” part of REACH is now in play. Depending on the substance, companies have between 24 and 30 months to apply for authorizations to continue to use the substances in specific applications. Requests for authorization must be accompanied by a substitution plan and evidence either that the substances can be used safely or that there is a strong socioeconomic case for their continued use.