Last changed: 08/10/2010
The act is intended to protect humans and the environment from harmful effects of hazardous chemicals (substances and preparations). Under the terms of the act, substances newly brought into circulation must be tested according to predetermined criteria for possible hazardous properties and effects. In addition, the substances must first be registered at the Federal Institute for Health and Safety at Work (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz). Various federal institutes are involved in the testing and evaluation procedure, ensuring the formation of as comprehensive an opinion as possible: the Federal Institute for Consumer Health and Veterinary Medicine (Bundesinstitut für gesundheitlichen Verbraucherschutz und Veterinärmedizin, BGvV), the Federal Environment Agency, the Federal Biological Institute (Biologische Bundesanstalt) and the Federal Institute for Materials Testing (Bundesanstalt für Materialprüfung). Hazardous substances are to be classified, packaged and clearly marked according to the degree of risk they represent. The manufacture, processing and use of hazardous substances may also be subject to special prescriptions. Alongside new substances, substances already in circulation may also become subject to the prescriptions in the Chemicals Act if evidence of a particular risk becomes known.
Of the 1086 substances registered in Germany to date (November 1998), 159 have achieved annual sales of 10 t, 18 of 100 t and only 3 of 1,000 t. On the basis of the Chemicals Act, the federal government has enacted numerous proscriptive, restrictive and other measures for the protection of humans and the environment from harmful effects of hazardous chemicals (see, among others, the Hazardous Substances Ordinance, PCBs, Halons, cf. also pentachlorophenol, the Acyclic Chlorol Ordinance, CFCs, tar oil).