The new European Union (EU) legislation concerning REACH (the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals) took effect on June 1, 2007. The REACH regulation gives greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances. In contrast to RoHS (Restrictions on Hazardous Substances), which covers a narrow scope of substances in electronic products encompassing about 100 different chemicals, REACH covers substances in nearly all applications, totaling about 30,000 unique chemicals. Also, while RoHS can address entire classes of substances at a time, REACH addresses them each individually. Where RoHS requires supplier-to-customer communications, the REACH regulation makes bidirectional communication throughout the supply chain imperative.

“REACH will have a far-reaching effect on any company that buys, sells, or uses chemicals,” said Tony Hilvers, vice president of industry programs for IPC. “Inevitably, all companies that use chemicals or make products that contain chemicals will be affected…and that pretty much sums up the entire electronics supply chain. The survey clearly indicates that our industry is woefully unprepared for the hit it’s about to take.”

The electronic survey, sent to executives throughout the electronic interconnect supply chain in North America and Europe, reveals that even with a deadline for pre-registration of substances quickly approaching, only 18.3% of companies have identified and/or inventoried all substances in their products. In addition, only 60.5% of chemical supplier respondents are planning to register or pre-register substances at all.

For more information about the study, contact Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research, at (847) 597-2817 or More information about the REACH regulation can be found on IPC’s Environmental, Health, and Safety webpage.