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Priority-Setting Guide (PRIO)

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1. Elaborated by

Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate (KEMI).

2. Description

The Priority-Setting Guide is part of a wider web based tool called PRIO-a tool for risk reduction of chemicals developed by KEMI to facilitate the assessment of health and environmental risks of chemicals, so that people who work as environmental managers, purchasers and product developers can identify the need for risk reduction. PRIO also provides a source of knowledge for environmental and health inspectors, environmental auditors, risk analysts and those who in some other way can influence the use and handling of chemicals.

PRIO includes:

  • A database of 4472 substances with properties hazardous to the environment and health that should be prioritized in risk-reduction work.
  • Priority setting Guide
  • Guidance on how to reduce chemical risks in practical use

PRIO allows users to:

  • search for substances and obtain information on properties hazardous to the environment and health
  • obtain information on prioritized health and environmental properties
  • identify substances contained in chemically characterized substance groups and product types
  • obtain help in developing routines for purchasing, product development, risk management etc.

The Priority-Setting Guide is a step by step guide that defines levels of risk reduction priorities. It is not aimed to compare substances; however, it can be used to define risk levels of different chemical alternatives.

1st step: Inventory of substances

2nd step: Hazard assessment of substances searching on the PRIO database or on the EU classification system.

3rd step: Prioritization of the substance in two categories: phase-out substance or risk reduction substance.

Properties for consideration as phase-out substances are:

  • Carcinogenic (Category 1 and 2) Mutagenic (Category 1 and 2) Toxic to reproduction (Category 1 and 2) Endocrine disrupter
  • Particularly hazardous metals (Cd, Hg, Pb)
  • PBT /vPvB – Persistent, Bioaccumulating, Toxic / very Persistent, very Bioaccumulating
  • Ozone-depleting substances

Properties for consideration as risk reduction substances are:

  • Very high acute toxicity
  • Allergenic
  • High chronic toxicity
  • Mutagenic (Category 3) Environmentally hazardous, long-term effects
  • Potential PBT / vPvB

4th Step: Risk review of risk reduction substances. The risks must be analysed on the basis of the life cycle of the product:

  1. Risks due to chemicals in production
  2. Risks in the user phase (involves several different steps)
  3. Risks when the product or article becomes waste
  4. Evaluation of the risks
  5. Decision on chemical usage

Substances should be classified according to their risk level:

  1. Low risk, acceptable in principle
  2. Increased risk that needs further investigation and possibly requires measures to be taken
  3. High risk that requires direct measures to be taken

5th step: Phase out and risk reduction recommendations.

Pase-out substances and high risk substances should be substituted. Risk reduction recommendations are made for other substances.

3. Reliability

The criteria and source of information used to define the hazardous properties of the substances are mainly the EU classification system. However, only a minority of existing substances has undergone EU classification work, therefore, substances that may have toxic properties as stated by scientific literature may not be considered.

4. Applicability

The guide is only intended for the assessment of individual chemicals. It is intended for all types of users, including SME, professional users and consumers. It is applicable only to chemical hazards and risks.

5. User friendliness

If substances are included in the PRIO database it is easy to use and not time consuming. Neither expertise nor training is needed. It is suitable for all types of users including SME’s and consumers.

6. Limitations

Since the method is based on R phrases, it only covers 7000 chemicals classified with such phrases, included in Regulation (EC) 1272/2008 CLP. However, estimates can be drawn using the description of hazards associated with R phrases if there is an additional source of information on the assessed risks. For these estimations a higher level of expertise would be recommended. If the substance is not included in the PRIO database access to information on PBT/vPvB and endocrine disrupting process is difficult and requires expertise.

Physicochemical properties are not considered.

The most important advantage of this method is that is very easy to handle by non-professional users and facilitates a quick assessment on chemicals.

7. Availability

It is available in Swedish and English, free of charge at the KEMI website.

8. Links:

Go to: PRIO at

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Restricted and priority substances database» link
Case story database » link