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Five Chemicals Alternatives Assessment Study: Executive Summary

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Publication Date: June 2006

Publisher(s): Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute

Funder(s): Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Funder(s): Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Topic: Environment (Pollution and environmental degradation)
Labor (Occupational health and safety)
Manufacturing and industry (Industrial materials)

Keywords: hexavalent chromium; DEHP; lead compounds; perchloroethylene

Type: Report

Abstract:

In July 2005, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requested that the Toxics Use Reduction Institute perform an alternatives assessment for five chemicals: lead, formaldehyde, perchloroethylene (PCE), hexavalent chromium, and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). For each chemical, the Institute was charged with identifying significant uses in manufacturing, consumer products, and other applications; reviewing health and environmental effects; and evaluating possible alternatives. The Institute was also directed to evaluate possible effects on Massachusetts employment and economic competitiveness associated with adoption of alternatives. The study was conducted within a single fiscal year, and had a total budget of $250,000.

Rather than attempt to study all uses of each chemical, the Institute selected priority categories of use for each chemical. Likewise, for each use studied, the Institute chose a subset of possible alternatives for analysis. The Institute analyzed a total of sixteen different use categories and approximately one hundred different alternatives.

This report presents factual information on each alternative. The study does not provide a ranking of the alternatives; rather, it provides information that will allow users to make informed decisions and, in some cases, to design additional research to fill remaining information gaps. An important aspect of this alternatives assessment is its transparency: all information collected by the Institute is available for users to assess in the context of their specific applications, concerns and needs. Where the Institute was not able to obtain full information for a given parameter, this is clearly noted. The results of this study will serve as a guide for those seeking safer substitutes to the five chemicals discussed here.

In every case, at least one alternative was identified that was commercially available, was likely to meet the technical requirements of many users, and was likely to have reduced environmental and occupational health and safety impacts compared with the base chemical. In addition, the methodologies piloted in this study should prove useful as a model for future efforts at alternatives assessment. Alternatives assessment is a relatively new and highly promising methodology for analyzing products and processes that affect human health or the environment. The present study helps to demonstrate the viability of alternatives assessment as a useful tool to support decision-making about chemicals and their alternatives.