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Classification and Labeling Policies

Council Directive 67/548/EEC , the earliest EU chemicals legislation, created a system for standardizing classification, packaging and labeling of dangerous substances (both industrial chemicals and pesticides). It has since been amended a number of times. Directive 88/379/EEC covers similar areas for ‘preparations’ - a mixture of substances e.g., paint - rather than substances.

Producers are obliged “to carry out an investigation to make themselves aware of the relevant and accessible data which exist concerning the properties of such substances. On the basis of this information, they shall package and provisionally label these substances.” The legislation also specifies the criteria to be used when classifying the dangerous properties of the substance, for example carcinogenicity or reproductive toxicity - an up-to-date text is available here.

In addition to classification by producers, for substances of special concern Member State regulatory authorities work together to produce harmonized classifications. To date, around 8,000 substances have been classified in this way and added to Annex 1; the results are available for download.

Producers of substances and preparations that meet the criteria for classification as dangerous are also required to create a safety data sheet (SDS) containing information about the substance’s properties; this SDS must be passed on to their customers - for more information, see the European Commission's SDS web pages.

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