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Green Screen for Safer Chemicals


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1. Elaborated by

Clean Production Action (CPA)

CPA is a consultancy based in the US and Canada. It’s unique role is to translate the systems-based vision of clean production into the tools and strategies NGOs, governments and businesses need to advance green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products.

2. Description

The Green Screen for Safer Chemicals is a hazard-based screening method that is designed to inform decision-makers in businesses, governments, and individuals concerned with the risks posed by chemicals and to advance the development of green chemistry. The Green Screen defines four benchmarks on the path to safer chemicals, with each benchmark defining a progressively safer chemical:

  • Benchmark 1: Avoid. Chemicals of high concern.
  • Benchmark 2: Use but search for safer substitutes.
  • Benchmark 3: Use but still opportunity for improvement.
  • Benchmark 4: Safe chemical.

Each benchmark includes a set of hazard criteria—including persistence, bioaccumulation, ecotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and reproductive toxicity—that a chemical, along with its known and predicted breakdown products and metabolites, must pass.

Green Screen assesses chemicals on the basis of intrinsic hazards determined by their potential to cause acute or chronic human and environmental effects and on certain physical and chemical characteristics of interest for human health. Table 1 shows the hazards and assessment criteria used by this method.

For a chemical to improve from benchmark 1 to benchmark 2, it must pass all the criteria of benchmark 1. And so on for going from 2 to 3 and from 3 to 4 all specific criteria must be met. Criteria become progressively more challenging in terms of human and environmental safety. Criteria in benchmark 4 represent the safest chemicals.

Alternative chemicals are compared according to the benchmark they belong to.

3. Reliability

Very reliable method due to the wide variety of parameters assessed and its highly reliable sources of information: Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), International Uniform Chemical Information Database (IUCLID), High Production Volume International System (HPVIS), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Screening Information Dataset (SIDS).

4. Applicability

Only used to assess and compare individual chemicals, not products, processes or alternative technologies. Most suitable for use by policy decisions, chemical formulators and products and articles manufacturers. It is applicable only to chemical hazards and risks.

5. User friendliness

It requires expertise and dedication to obtain the necessary information.

6. Limitations

The method requires specific training since it becomes necessary to consult databases and scientific literature. Not suitable for SMEs or consumers.

7. Availability

The study that includes the method can be downloaded free of charge at CPA’s Website.

8. Links

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