In a trailblazing effort to mitigate the dangerous effects of toxic substances on human and environmental health, the European Commission has proposed strict new standards for chemical production. Currently, those chemicals that were in use before the E.U. was established in 1981 are not subject to the same registration and testing standards as new substances. Under the new proposal, any company manufacturing, importing, or using any chemical would have to prove its safety by registering and testing it; chemicals that did not pass the safety standards would be banned. The commission estimates that the law would affect some 30,000 chemicals and cost companies $7.9 billion over the first decade. Environmentalists welcomed the proposal, which E.U. Enterprise Commissioner spokesperson Per Haugaard said would strike a “balance between protecting the environment and protecting the competitiveness of industry.”