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Socio-economic analysis in REACH restriction dossiers for chemicals management: A critical review

Gabbert, Silke; Hilber, Isabel

Summary

This paper offers a critical review of socio-economic analysis (SEA) in Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) restriction dossiers. We examine the conceptual setup of SEA and identify the methods used for impact assessment. Moreover, we analyse the outcomes of quantitative impact assessment across restriction dossiers and substance groups. We find that impact assessment has largely focused on economic and health impacts. Environmental, social, wider economic and distributional impacts have either been evaluated qualitatively or not at all. While this can be explained by the specific scope of the proposed restriction or by lacking data, we also observe a lack of approaches for environmental and health impact assessment. This underlines the need to develop integrated methods that transform information about chemical effects and risks into impacts and, ultimately, into benefits and damages. Furthermore, to strengthen the function of SEA as decision-support tool in REACH restriction procedures, a comparative SEA of at least two alternative restriction options should be the default.