It is being hailed as the world’s most ambitious piece of legislation on public health and environmental protection. The European Parliament has approved a new regulatory system to make producers and importers of chemicals prove that the substances they put on the market in the EU are safe for consumers. Euro deputies voted overwhelmingly in favour of the measure, known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals). It applies to about 30,000 chemicals found in products as diverse as cars, computers and paint. Today’s landmark vote follows years of debate that has pitted industry against consumer-rights campaigners. Some activists on both sides are unhappy as the final measure is a compromise package. It is due to go into force on June 1 2007.