THE AIM OF TESTING AND REGULATING chemicals used by industry in the EU may sound straightforward, even if the numbers (over 100,000) are daunting, but specialist terminology and acronyms can easily multiply until their meaning is lost. Since 2009 the European Chemicals Agency ECHA has come to the rescue with an online search and translation facility. ECHA-term operates in twenty-three languages and can retrieve definitions of about 1,200 terms related to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances (CLP) and the new Biocides regulation. As well as translating from one language to another the web site mentions acronyms in use and provides links to the text of relevant legislation.
According to Nerija Jukniute, ECHA's translation coordinator the web page gets ‘around 3,200 online visits per month and 300 search queries every day. Most active users come from Germany, Luxembourg, Finland and France’. The chemicals industry leads the way with the next biggest user groups being translators and government authorities. A feedback button allows users to correct translations that they think are inaccurate and about one hundred new terms are added every year. The site is free and can be used without registering.