How we regulate chemicals

How we regulate chemicals

Find out more about how we regulate chemicals and the permits you need.


Some substances pose a threat to the environment because of their toxicity, persistence and tendency to bio-accumulate. Once they are in the environment, or in animals or humans, it is very difficult to get rid of them.

The Environment Agency will provide the registration service for Natural Resources Wales for regulating chemicals on an ongoing basis.

Natural Resources Wales will be responsible for compliance and enforcement in Wales.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

If you or your company own electrical equipment manufactured before 1987, then it may contain PCBs and you must check that you comply with the law.

PCBs are classed as Persistent Organic Pollutants and production is now banned. However, they are still a problem because of their previously widespread use.

You can find further information about PCBs, the regulations, and links to the registration forms and guidance on the Environment Agency’s website.

If you have any queries, please contact us on 0300 065 3000.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

POPs accumulate in the fatty tissues of organisms and, because of slow degradation, they bioaccumulate in food chains where they can pose a risk to human health and the environment.

POPs are carbon-containing compounds that meet the chemical assessment criteria for Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) substances eg DDT and dioxins.

The EU POPs Regulations:

  • ban or restrict the production, use and sale of listed Persistent Organic Pollutant chemicals;
  • require efforts to minimise the formation of unintentional persistent organic by-products;
  • describe how stockpiles of POPs must be managed (please read the following information)

The REACH regulation

The REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) Regulation 2006 aims to:

  • provide a high level of protection for human health and the environment;
  • make manufacturers and importers responsible for managing risks;
  • allow the free movement of substances on the EU market;
  • enhance the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry;
  • promote alternative methods for the assessment of hazards

The Regulation:

  • requires manufacturers and importers of chemical substances to gather hazard information and assess risks;
  • can require the use of some particularly high-risk substances to be authorised;
  • restricts the marketing and use of certain hazardous chemicals and mixtures
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