Summary: The Committee and Working Party on Chemicals of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have agreed harmonised criteria for the classification of chemicals according to the threat they pose to human health and the environment. This agreement represents an important step towards a global harmonised system for the classification and labelling of chemicals and compounds, the market for which is characterised by a diversity of national provisions on the labelling of identical products and the incompatibility of regulations concerning the transport of chemicals.

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro stipulated that efforts would be made to introduce a global harmonised system for the classification of risk and compatible labelling - including safety information and easily identifiable symbols - by the year 2000. In this context, the OECD's Committee on Chemicals was entrusted with the task of securing a consensus on harmonised classification criteria for the toxic and ecotoxic properties of chemicals. Following a study of the various...

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