New Tool to Promote Safer Chemicals and Products

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced new criteria to
help companies and other groups, such as states and environmental
organizations, identify safer chemicals. As part of the agencys Design for the
Environment (DfE) program, EPA unveiled the new criteria which are an important
tool under its DfE Alternatives Assessments for identifying safer alternatives
to chemicals that pose a concern to human health and the environment.

This new approach for evaluating and identifying safer chemicals is an
important step toward ensuring that that the chemicals used in this country are
safe, said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPAs Office of Chemical
Safety and Pollution Prevention. Making this information available will not
only lead to the manufacture of safer products, it will increase the publics
access to critical chemical information.

The DfE program works in partnership with industry, environmental groups, and
academia to help industry choose safer alternatives to chemicals that may pose
a concern to human health or the environment. Information on chemical hazards
from DfE Alternatives Assessments is combined with industry data on performance
and cost to guide the choice of safer alternatives. To distinguish among
alternatives, DfE evaluates data for each chemical and assigns hazard levels of
high, moderate, or low for human health and environmental concerns.

DfE Alternatives Assessments will be conducted for bisphenol A (BPA),
phthalates, decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
and nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NP and NPEs). Both the BPA and
decaBDE efforts are under way and include the use of BPA and its alternatives
in thermal paper, such as cash register receipts, and the review of flame
retardant alternatives to decaBDE in products such as textiles, plastic
palettes, and electronics. Assessments of phthalates, the flame retardant HBCD,
and NPEs will begin in 2011.

The assessments will lead to the manufacture of safer products and reduced
chemical exposures. For example, replacing BPA in thermal paper with safer
alternatives will safeguard children, cashiers, and others from BPA in cash
register or sales receipts. Similarly, safer alternatives to decaBDE flame
retardants used in textiles and electronics will eliminate an important route
of human and environmental exposure to this chemical.

More info - Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)