HealthyStuff.org urges manufacturers to adopt a comprehensive chemicals
policy for their company. The Lowell
Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts
Lowell launched a new State
Chemicals Policy Database for legislators, policy makers, researchers
and advocates that houses more than 700 state and local legislative
and executive branch policies from all 50 states from 1990 to the present.
Know the process chemicals required to make your products.
Know the life-cycle impacts of your products including the chemicals
released during product use, and their degradation and combustion
Signal vendors that complete chemical ingredient information will
be required over time.
Prescreen all chemicals before use for safety:
Establish a baseline set of criteria that any chemical must meet
in order to be used in company products. The criteria must be protective
of children's health.
All new chemicals the company contemplates using should receive
the highest level screening, to prevent the integration of a new problem
chemical into the company's manufacturing system.
Insure that all chemical components in existing products are tested
to assess hazards:
Comprehensively assess all chemicals/materials in products for health/safety
and environmental concerns throughout the life cycle of that chemical/material.
Use screening tools where direct testing data is not available (the
EPA has a series of on-line tools) to determine the hazard profile
of all chemical components
Initially screen all chemical components and process chemicals against
existing lists of chemicals of concern
Work toward comprehensive testing (or urge upstream suppliers to
provide comprehensive testing data) for key health and environmental
endpoints of concern for children's health
Evaluate all chemicals based on their inherent hazards, not on a
risk characterization. Prioritization may incorporate risk characterization.
Over time, only use chemicals that have been fully tested for their
ability to harm health or the environment, and found to be less hazardous.
Phase out chemicals that have not been tested.
Signal vendors that complete chemical testing will be required for
chemical components of products over time.
Eliminate the worst chemicals and commit to continuous improvement:
Commit to use only inherently low hazard chemicals.
Set goals for benchmarking progress to safer chemicals and prioritize
high hazard chemicals for substitution with safer alternatives.
Commit to eliminating lead, mercury, and cadmium and other persistent,
bioaccumulative toxic chemicals immediately as a first step, and phase
out the use of PVC with dangerous additives.
Prohibit chemicals with a high hazard profile. These may be chemicals
that persist and bioaccumulate; chemicals that are known carcinogens,
mutagens and reproductive toxicants; known neurotoxicants; and chemicals that are ecologically
harmful, etc. This list should go beyond regulatory requirements. The
list should be developed by first evaluating the inherent hazards of a chemical, then prioritizing based on a life cycle assessment of the
threats posed by the chemical/material. The list of attributes that are
prohibited should grow over time, in order to achieve a chemical profile
for the company that includes primarily low hazard chemicals.
Commit to continuous improvement in the toxicity profile of all chemicals
used. Establish goals to reduce the overall toxicity profile for the
company. Those goals should be reviewed regularly and should continually
improve the chemical profile of the company. Develop metrics to capture
cost savings and other benefits of the program. Align employee incentives
with this goal.
Disclose ingredients. Label and bar code or otherwise provide health/safety/environmental
attributes of products for consumers/user in a way that is easy for
the consumer to access.
Publicly support government chemical reform measures. Companies can
provide a powerful voice for change at the state and federal level.
Individual chemicals policies by companies are an inefficient way to
provide comprehensive testing information to all downstream users. Companies
should support the reform of chemicals management laws so that adequate
information on chemical impacts is provided to downstream users to
choose the safest and most effective chemicals. Companies should also
support the development of safer alternatives, and the creation of incentives
to accelerate the development of safer materials.
Be socially responsible. Contract from and operate facilities that
meet basic human rights for workers and provide safe and healthy workplaces.
Publicly disclose progress. Disclose the policy and progress towards
achieving it on your company's website, in your annual CSR/sustainability
reporting, and in the media.