Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Step 4: Assess & Compare

Systematically comparing the hazard, cost, and performance of different alternatives will enable you to make an informed decision. This step will help you assess and compare alternatives.

Key Questions

To prioritize alternatives for further assessment, consider:
  • What are the performance requirements of the chemical or process?
  • Do specific alternatives present a high risk to worker safety and health?
When assessing and comparing alternatives, consider:
  • What health and safety criteria (toxicological and physical properties) need to be compared?
  • Will workers experience changes to the performance of their work tasks when using the alternative, including any changes to the use of engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE? Will workers experience changes in exposure when using the alternative? Will these changes present new/different hazards to workers?
  • What performance criteria need to be compared?
  • What costs need to be compared?


Once alternatives are identified, it is often necessary to prioritize them for further assessment. Focusing the work on the most promising alternatives is an effective way to use limited resources and avoid unnecessary research and evaluation.

Prioritizing alternatives based first on performance can help to narrow the scope of alternatives to those that have the potential to be effectively implemented in the workplace while maintaining process and product quality. To identify performance requirements for the chemical, material, or product that you are looking to replace, the planning team should consider what the chemical, material, or product needs to do and whether there are specific technical and engineering design constraints. Other functional requirements, such as quality criteria and customer or legal requirements for technical acceptability should also be considered.

Before further evaluating your options, you may also consider deprioritizing those alternatives that may result in new hazards or will not substantially improve worker safety and health. You can use existing restricted substances lists, authoritative lists of priority chemicals, and lists of chemicals of concern to rapidly identify alternatives that present worker safety and health concerns, are inconsistent with company goals, or may be subject to legal or consumer restrictions. While these options should not be the first you evaluate, they should not be completely eliminated from consideration. If you find, after further research and evaluation, that none of your first choice alternatives will work, you may decide to reconsider those options that, while having some concerns, could still be safer and healthier for workers in a particular application.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Step 3: Identify Alternatives

Further Resources

Case Studies

Danish Working Environment Authority. CatSub. This database is a catalog of more than 300 case stories describing successful substitutions with less hazardous chemicals.
Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. Substitution and Alternatives Case Studies, Examples and Tools. This resource provides case studies and examples for selected chemicals and chemical categories.
Massachusetts Office of Technology Assistance. OTA Case Studies. This website provides links to technology case studies that profile actual applications of pollution prevention technologies and processes that businesses, municipalities, and other toxics users across Massachusetts have implemented.
Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute. Toxics Use Reduction Case Studies. This website provides links to documents describing actual applications of toxics use reduction in a variety of industry sectors.
SUBSPORT. Case Story Database. This database provides substitution examples, as well as information on alternative substances and technologies from enterprises, published reports and other sources.

Databases of Alternatives

Cooperation Centre Hamburg. Cleantool. This database highlights best practices for the cleaning of metal surfaces and provides information about less hazardous parts cleaning, metal surface cleaning, component cleaning, and degreasing.
GreenBlue. CleanGredients®. This is an online database of cleaning product ingredient chemicals, providing verified information about the environmental and human health attributes of listed ingredients.
ISTAS. Alternativas de SustituciĆ³n (Spanish). This database provides information on alternative chemicals, technologies, and processes, as well as case examples of substitution.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Green Chemical Alternatives Purchasing Wizard. This database is designed to provide easy and quick access to information about available chemical alternatives to hazardous solvents.
Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute. CleanerSolutions Database. This database provides information about safer alternatives to hazardous solvents for surface cleaning.
U.S. EPA Design for the Environment Program. Safer Chemical Ingredients List. This list contains chemicals that meet the criteria of the Design for the Environment Safer Product Labeling Program.

Completed Alternatives Assessments

Institute for Research and Technical Assistance. Reports. This website provides links to completed alternatives assessments on a variety of topics.
Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2). Examples of Alternatives Assessments. This website provides links to completed alternatives assessments on a variety of topics.
U.S. EPA Design for the Environment Program. Alternatives Assessments. This website provides links to completed alternatives assessments on a variety of topics.
U.S. EPA Design for the Environment Program. Publications. This website provides links to completed cleaner technologies substitutes assessments on a variety of topics.

Scientific Literature

Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute. TURI Library. This library focuses on information related to toxics use reduction. Its online public access catalog describes over 14,000 documents and provides links to documents freely available on the Web.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Step 3: Identify Alternatives

Identifying alternatives opens up the potential for finding more efficient, safer, and more sustainable solutions. This step will help you get a clear overview of your different options.


After targeting a chemical for substitution efforts, it is important to broadly consider all possible chemical alternatives, material alternatives, process changes, design changes, technological solutions, or other options to eliminate the hazardous chemical, even if particular options may be currently infeasible.
When looking for chemical alternatives, material substitutes, or process changes for a particular application/use, it is best to begin with industry-specific information and case examples about what is currently being used in the market. From there you can usually identify specific companies that are using alternatives; these companies are often good resources for identifying other alternatives they may be aware of or have tried. Talking to suppliers, workers, industry associations, government officials, professional associations, and non-governmental organizations can also provide information on existing alternatives.
Specific resources have been developed for researching alternatives to hazardous chemicals. These resources include case studies of substitution (SUBSPORT, CatSub, IFCS), databases of alternatives (Alternativas (in Spanish only), CleanGredients®, Cleantool), as well as completed alternatives assessments (Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse). Performing a single search of multiple online resources related to substitution is another rapid way to identify possible alternatives.
Additionally, searching recent scientific literature may lead to discoveries of chemicals, materials, or processes that are being researched for the application, or for similar applications that have the same or similar performance requirements. The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute’s technical research library of pollution prevention and chemical alternatives resources can help you locate this type of information about alternative chemicals, materials, products, and processes.
Where no alternatives exist, consider partnering with other businesses or trade associations to initiate innovative research on safer products and processes.

Key Resource

SubsPort Website

Case Story Database

SUBSPORT’s Case Story Database provides over 300 substitution examples as well as information on alternative substances and technologies from businesses, published reports and other sources. Substances mentioned in the case stories are evaluated for hazards and screened out of the database if they are identified as CMRs (carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants), PBTs (persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals), endocrine disruptors, neurotoxicants, or sensitization agents.

Key Resource



CleanGredients® is an online database of safer cleaning product ingredients that is a unique partnership between the nonprofit institute GreenBlue, the U.S. EPA, and industry. GreenBlue establishes health and environmental criteria for each chemical ingredient class with the input and approval of the U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment Program. The database lists a variety of chemical ingredient classes necessary for formulators to make their products, including: surfactants, solvents, fragrances, chelating agents, colorants, enzymes, defoamers, starter formulations, processing aids, oxidants, polymers, and preservatives and antioxidants. Each of the listed ingredients is verified by third-party reviewers (NSF International and ToxServices) as meeting the established environmental and human health criteria. In addition, the database provides supplier contact information, links to websites, material safety data sheets, and technical fact sheets for each of the listed ingredients. This resource helps formulators identify ingredients that have potential environmental and human health benefits and helps suppliers showcase their chemicals with potential environmental and human health benefits.