South Korea Updates Regulations on Toxic Substances

South Korea plans to enact a new legal framework for dealing with toxic substances. The changes effect K-REACH and the Chemical Control Act (CCA), a law that regulates the handling of hazardous substances. Representatives of the Environmental Ministry presented the plans (only in Korean) on October 19 at a conference (Labeling and Management of Toxic Substances) in Seoul. Representatives of government, industry, and non-governmental organizations; legal experts; and academics attended the conference.

A draft of the reform is to be published before the end of the year: Implementation of the updated law will then occur next year. The essential change involves more-exact specification of the dangerousness of a chemical to enable differentiated management. Among other changes, the substances will be assigned to the following hazardousness characteristics:

  • Substances that are acutely dangerous to humans. They are toxic orally, percutaneously, and through inhalation or are skin corrosive and show specific toxicity to individual target organs
  • Substances that are hazardous for humans with chronic exposure, that is, they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reprotoxic (equivalent to SVHCs in the EU)
  • Substances that harm the environment

Industry representatives have complained about the strict requirements of the CCA, which apply uniformly to facilities in which hazardous substances are processed, regardless of the risk to humans and the environment.

If you are active on the South Korean market, you should learn about the planned changes. Feel free to contact us with any questions at

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