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European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances (EINECS)

Definition - What does European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances (EINECS) mean?

The European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances is a registry of chemical substances that were commercially available within the European Union between January 1, 1971 and September 18, 1981. Each chemical within the inventory is classified according a seven digit EINECS number. EINECS numbers classify substances according to a single numerical standard, allowing for a simplified identification process.

The EINECS inventory is one of three inventories in the unified European Community (EC) Inventory of chemical substances. Under this unified system EINECS numbers appear on labelling and safety sheets as EC Numbers. Under EU law, the labelling and packaging of dangerous substances sold or transported commercially within the EU must display their associated EC numbers to aid in the effective identification of those substances.

Safeopedia explains European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances (EINECS)

The European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances (EINECS), the European List of Notified Chemical Substances (ELINCS), and the No-longer Polymers (NLP) List are the three chemical inventories that make up the unified European Community (EC) Inventory of substances. Chemical substances within the EC inventory are governed by the provisions of the European Union’s REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and restriction of CHemicals). REACH regulation was created to harmonize a broad set of chemicals regulations across the EU into a single system. The goal of this regulation is to maximize a high level of chemicals safety within the framework of a competitive chemicals industry. REACH was formally adopted by the EU as Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 in December of 2006 and came into force in 2007.

Under REACH, chemicals listed within the EINECS inventory are referred to as “phase-in substances”. In order to be legally imported or sold on the European Market all chemical substances, including phase-in substances, must be registered by industry (manufacturers/suppliers/importers) with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. Each registration must be accompanied by a standard set of data about the substance, including its hazardous properties. Phase-in substances must be registered according to a series of three-deadlines. These deadlines vary according to the amount of substance (by tonnage) being brought to market and their hazardous properties. The registration deadline for the most hazardous or heavily transported phase-in substances is 30 November 2010, followed stepwise by another deadline at 31 May 2013. The deadline for the least hazardous or heavily transported substances is 31 May 2018. As a phase-in substance, no chemical substance within the EINECS inventory may be imported or sold within the European Union if not registered in accordance with these deadlines.
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