OECD launches online toolkit for chemical substitution and alternatives | News | SDG Knowledge Center

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has developed a Substitution and Alternatives Toolbox (SAAToolbox) for chemicals. The toolkit includes: an online portal, with information on tools and data sources; frameworks, guides, toolkits and rating systems; non-hazardous assessment tools; and alternative case studies.

The Tools and Data Sources Portal, which compiles information on online resources and software for undertaking assessments of chemical substitutions or alternatives, lists:; and data sources that contain information but no data manipulation mechanism for outside users. The tools and data sources deal with chemical risk assessment and, sometimes, other comparative attributes.

Specific tools include:

  • The column model, developed by the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IFA) of the German Social Accident Insurance, enables industry to identify alternative substances. It also enables the comparison of chemicals/substances or materials/mixtures based on hazard parameters, such as exposure potential, acute and chronic health hazards, and physicochemical and process-related hazards, the user making the final assessment. Although not intended for robust process change assessments, the tool can be used to assess chemicals/substances or alternative materials/mixtures and minor process changes.
  • The Green Chemistry Wizard, used for chemical substitutions and process modifications, allows users to manipulate and evaluate chemical reactions.
  • PRIO, developed by the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate (KemI) to help remove high-risk chemicals from products in order to meet the Swedish government’s goal of a “non-toxic environment” by 2020, contains a database of chemicals of very high concern to human health and the environment, which are divided into ‘elimination’ or ‘priority risk reduction’ chemicals.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) OncoLogic 8.0 predicts the potential carcinogenicity of metals, polymers, fibers, and organic chemicals based on analysis and compilation of cancer data concerning 1,500 chemical products. It also aims to provide data on chemicals for which little or no cancer data exists.
  • The Pollution Prevention Options Analysis System helps companies assess the unintended consequences of current alternative technologies.
  • The German Federal Environment Agency’s Sustainable Chemicals Guidance helps manufacturers, formulators or end users of substances to prioritize sustainability in the selection of substances and the use of chemicals.

Among the data sources, the toolkit lists:

  • CAMEO Chemicals, a database of hazardous chemicals with safety and exposure information for responders and emergency planners so they can make response recommendations and predict hazards, such as explosions , chemical fires and the results of chemical mixtures;
  • Chemical Entities of Biological Interest, a database focused on “small” chemical compounds with potential pharmacological properties;
  • ChemicALL, a database of hazardous chemicals used by members of the Swedish Chemicals Group in the electronics and textile industries;
  • ChemSec Marketplace, a business-to-business website where buyers and sellers of safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals can interact; and
  • ChemSec Textile Guide, which helps small and medium textile companies manage chemicals in their processes and products.

Other sources of data relate to: environmentally friendly cleaning products; pesticides; publicly available peer-reviewed chemical safety publications and databases from international agencies; information on chemical toxicity to aquatic life and terrestrial plant fauna; hazardous chemicals commonly used in schools; and a collection of databases maintained by the National Institutes of Health in the United States that provide data and references for hundreds of thousands of potentially hazardous chemicals.

Chemical substitution tables detail frameworks and guides, toolkits and product rating systems developed by various organizations in response to chemical substance regulations and stakeholder interest to ensure that assessments of alternatives are carried out coherently. The tables include:

  • executives and guides from academia, government, industry and non-governmental organizations (NGOs);
  • toolkits or websites with information related to safer chemical substitutions and assessments of alternatives, including from the European Chemicals Agency, US Occupational Safety and Health Administration , Healthcare without Harm and the French National Institute for Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection, among others; and
  • product rating systems, which include the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Registry, GreenBlue, Healthy Buildings Network, and the US EPA’s Design for the Environment Branch.

The non-hazardous assessment tools list page provides information on tools that address life cycle, cost/benefit and availability, social impact, exposure assessment, management of materials, performance evaluation and other comparative attributes of interest in an evaluation of alternatives.

Substitution and Methodology case studies describe assessments of alternatives conducted by manufacturers, academic institutions, NGOs, or government agencies. Other compilations of completed alternative assessments include the SUBSPORTPLUS web portal, which describes case studies to help companies meet substitution requirements under EU law; and the Interstate Chemical Clearinghouse’s Alternatives Evaluation Library.