ECHA’s Chemical Universe Mapping: Process and Progress

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has established a goal to complete, by 2027, a determination of whether registered chemical substances are a low priority for additional regulatory action, a priority for regulatory risk management, or a priority for data generation. This applies to all substances registered above one ton per year. In this blog post, we look at chemical universe substance assignment and consider the Agency’s progress toward its goal.

Chemical Universe and Pools for Chemical Assignment

The mapping of registered substances, also referred to as the chemical universe, is a tool developed by the ECHA in which each substance is assigned to one of several “pools”. The pools to which each is assigned note the corresponding regulatory actions planned or in process. Previously comprised of five pools, a sixth pool ("Assessment of regulatory needs") has been added to indicate those chemicals in the process of group assessment.

  • Ongoing regulatory risk management
    • The chemical substances in this pool have regulatory risk management measures that have already been initiated, as they have proven to be hazardous to the environment and human health. For some substances within this pool, additional regulatory actions may be required.
  • Regulatory risk management under consideration
    • This pool includes chemicals currently under consideration for regulatory risk management. Chemicals for which additional regulatory risk management has been deemed necessary, but has not yet started, are also included in this pool.
  • Data generation
    • Including chemical substances for which more information is necessary to determine the need for additional regulatory efforts, this pool also includes chemicals for which further required assessment has not yet commenced.
  • Assessment of regulatory needs
    • This pool includes chemical substances with ongoing regulatory needs assessments. From this pool, chemicals often move to another depending on status.
  • No further actions proposed
    • Among other things, this pool includes chemical substances for which additional regulatory action may not be required.
  • Not yet assigned
    • Chemicals that have not been designated for inclusion in any of the other pools are included in this one. Among the substance types that may be included are chemical intermediates, substances no longer being manufactured, and substances not otherwise prioritized for regulatory efforts.

The number of substances represented by the chemical universe (as of the end of last year), and the pools to which they are assigned, are shown below:

Tonnage/StatusOngoing Regulatory Risk ManagementRegulatory Risk Management Under ConsiderationData GenerationAssessment of Regulatory NeedsNo Further Actions ProposedNot Yet Assigned
>100 tons per year28119417683486791282
1-100 tons per year1231417373334465944
NONS - Claimed active144142824977
NONS - Unclaimed40132933301633
Cease manufacture - REACH49141102048627
Cease manufacture - Claimed NONS192495491

Source: European Chemicals Agency

At its current pace and progress, the ECHA is on target to complete assessment of all registered substances by 2027.

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