Hazard is the potential of something to cause harm; risk is the likelihood of harm occurring. Chemicals regulation is largely focused on minimising risks associated with chemicals – and rightly so. However, in the EU the hazard classification of individual chemicals can impact significantly the regulation of products containing those chemicals, regardless of the actual risks that the products may pose to human health or the environment. This can lead to undesirable consequences, such as restrictions on the use of safe products, substitution towards less safe products, and disincentives to innovate. Such hazard-based regulation tends to be at odds with World Trade Organization rules and has raised significant concern with EU trading partners.
This article originally appeared in European Journal of Risk Regulation.