HWTR Pollution Prevention

My Watershed


Selecting Safer Chemical Alternatives

As part of its Reducing Toxic Threats Initiative, Ecology is working to eliminate toxic chemicals by identifying safer alternatives and working with companies to replace toxic chemicals in their products.  A number of tools exist on how to assess alternatives to toxic chemicals.  Ecology has three primary tools to help with this process.

Alternatives Assessment Guide
Ecology and seven other member states of the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) developed the IC2 Alternatives Assessment Guide (the Guide). The document provides background information on what is found in and how to conduct an alternatives assessment. If you are interested in reviewing the Guide and response to comments received during the development process, more information can be found here.

Alternatives Assessment Guide for Washington State
Ecology and our stakeholders are creating an alternatives assessment guide specific to Washington State. We will base the Washington Guide on the IC2 Guide. Ecology formed an Advisory Group, conducted an alternatives assessment workshop on July 9, 2014, and held the first Advisory Group meeting on July 10, 2014. The Advisory Group will advise Ecology on what should be in the Washington Guide. Ecology will make the final decisions on the content and structure. The Advisory Group members are listed here. You can also find information from the workshop and Advisory Group meeting on the same page.

Hazard Assessment Using the GreenScreen™ Methodology
After reviewing many different methods to evaluate the impacts chemicals have upon human health and the environment, Ecology selected the GreenScreen™ methodology as its primary tool to conduct a hazard assessment. The GreenScreen™ methodology is based upon the process developed by EPA’s Design for the Environment Program.  It was developed by a non-government organization, Clean Production Action.  Ecology used this method in their alternative assessment evaluating alternatives to a specific class of brominated flame retardants and by a number of businesses to find alternatives to toxic chemicals used in their products.  More information on the GreenScreen™ can be found here.

Hazard Assessment Using the Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT)
Although the GreenScreen™ is the method selected by Ecology to conduct a hazard evaluation, concerns have been raised about its complexity and whether it can be used by small and medium companies with fewer resources and expertise.  Because of these concerns, Ecology has developed the QCAT.  Although QCAT is not intended as a replacement for the GreenScreen™, it can prove useful to companies that find the GreenScreen™ too complicated and expensive to implement.  It can also function as an introduction to the hazard assessment process and has been used to prioritize chemicals for a more detailed review.  More information on the QCAT can be found here.

Related information
Green Chemistry at Ecology — Learn about green chemistry efforts at Ecology.
The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) is an association of state, local, and tribal governments that promotes a clean environment, healthy communities, and a vital economy through the development and use of safer chemicals and products.
Design for the Environment (DfE), An EPA Partnership Program: The DfE Program reviews and recognizes best-in-class wet chemical-based formulations and products.