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The classification and labelling of chemicals in the EU

Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures

The Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and the Council of 16 December 2008 on the classification and packaging of substances and mixtures entered into force on 20 January 2009. This Regulation is amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, and amending Regulation (EC) No 1709/2006.

The purpose of the Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 also called GHS-Regulation (an implementation of the Globally Harmonised System of the United Nations into the EU) or so called CLP-Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures is to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment as well as the free movement of chemical substances, mixtures and certain specific articles within the European Union.

The global harmonisation of regulations for classification and labelling of substances and mixtures (UN-GHS) for marketing and use on the one hand and for transport on the other aims at protecting human life and the environment as well as simplifying world trade.

The new regulation entered into force on 20 January 2009 and applies mutatis mutandis. Accordently, substances have to be classified until 1 December 2010 pursuant to Directive 67/548/EEC and mixtures until 1 June 2015 pursuant to Directive 1999/45/EC. Differing from this provision, the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and preparation may already be used before 1 December 2010 and 1 June 2015 in accordance with the provisions of the CLP/GHS-Regulation. After these dates the provisions of the CLP-Regulation are mandatory.

The purpose of the regulation is to identify hazardous chemicals and to inform their users about particular threats with the help of standard symbols and phrases on the packaging labels and through safety data sheets. The purpose of the globally harmonised system is to make the level of protection of human health and the environment more uniform, transparent and comparable.

The REACH-Regulation is complemented by the CLP-Regulation. Relevant provisions of REACH focussing on classification and labelling will be adjusted.

Related topics on the Internet

For better understanding and more information on the new elements for classification and labelling the following links may be helpful:

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)
CLP – Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures

Chemical Hazard Communication Society (CHCS)
GHS Memocard - Understand The Label launches a new pocket card reminder of the new CLP label pictograms