It is difficult to know just how many substances that exist in the world today, but one estimation comes from the American Chemical Society (CAS); they have listed more than 135 million unique chemical substances in their database.
Out of the possibly more than 135 million substances that exist in the world there are only 181 substances on the Candidate List. 43 of those substances are on REACH authorization list (as of January 2018).
From this perspective it‘s evident that these chemicals, classified as “Substances of Very High Concern”, are a group of carefully selected few.
On ECHA’s website, one can read that REACH “has been described as the most complex legislation in the Union’s history and the most important in 20 years. It’s the strictest law to date regulating chemical substances and will affect industries throughout the world.”
Critiques, on the other hand, argue that ECHA is moving to slow and that the laws, even though being the strictest in the world, are not strict enough and should in fact include more prohibitions and restrictions.