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BizNGO 2017: Chemical list screening is not enough

During the recent 2-day BizNGO annual meeting in Boston, there was an excellent session entitled the “Chaos of Restricted Substance Lists.” During the panel presentations and discussion, the moderator, panelists, and meeting attendees offered useful insights on the challenges of chemical list management and ways to avoid the pitfalls and shortcomings of list screening as part of a chemicals management program. The session covered the broad variety of lists published by regulatory authorities, industry groups, and NGOs. Presentations highlighted many of the challenges in the list landscape. Different goals and needs drive the type of list to screen against.

Lists guide  compliance with regulations (e.g., Washington State Chemicals of High Concern to Children), organizing industry-led achievement (e.g., Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals MRSL) and even offer selections of preferred chemicals (e.g., US EPA Safer Chemical Ingredient List). In addition to providing an excellent overview of the varying list landscape and challenges, the session’s presenters all underscored the caveat of lists in chemicals management work:

Restricted substance lists (RSLs) are a useful and an efficient first step for finding problematic chemicals in products, but list checking is not a sufficient means for screening chemicals as safer substitutes.

Gaining a full understanding of the human and environmental health characteristics of a material or potential ingredient, not just its presence on a list or not, is critical to evaluating safer alternatives.

An increasing number of professionals in chemicals management and sustainability recognize that while screening chemicals using published “Lists” is a very important and efficient first step, it is by no means the end of the work. One example of this step-wise approach comes from  the Swedish NGO, ChemSec. ChemSec tracks hundreds  of chemicals of concern through its Substitute it Now (“SIN”) List program. This work by ChemSec helps companies more easily get out in front of regulations by tracking chemicals of concern based on their underlying health or environmental hazards. Many of the SINList chemicals are not (yet) regulated or restricted, but have significant health concerns and companies would be well-served to seek safer alternatives.

At Scivera, our team of board-certified toxicologists and researchers works daily to track and keep up to date the list screening component of SciveraLENS®. SciveraLENS offers automated and cost-effective list screening and alerts for dozens of regulatory, authoritative, NGO, and industry lists of interest to consumer product brands and their suppliers. SciveraLENS also adds the critical next step of providing the full assessment of chemicals for human and environmental health.

We work with many global brands and their suppliers to efficiently understand the characteristics of actual chemicals in products and processes—while also screening for restricted chemicals on lists. These companies are moving ahead in reducing the cost of compliance, enhancing brand value, as well as expanding environment, sustainability, and governance (ESG) achievement.

Let Scivera help you move beyond basic list checking to a proactive chemicals management strategy.