The use and availability of chemicals has done much to progress the everyday life of people, organisations and communities. However, chemicals also carry a cost.
Historically, the long-term impact of hazardous chemicals to both human and environmental health were challenging to measure and quantify. Technology is changing that.
Using tools like ChemAlert, we now have a way to establish an organisation’s chemical footprint. This will measure the impact an organisation is having by the use of specific chemicals and their related critical hazard data.
The goal of measuring your Chemical Footprint is to understand which chemicals represent those of highest concern, with a view to reducing your use of those high-risk chemicals and reducing your impact.
Within ChemAlert, we have established six Chemical Footprint categories. Each category has a value out of 100 and includes a colour coding metric similar to the traffic light system. Chemicals with a value closest to 100 represent the greatest concern for that category.
CMR – Carcinogen, Mutagen, and Reproductive Toxins
This category includes chemicals that may cause cancer, genetic defects, or harm an unborn child. A number of factors are used to measure the CMR value, including but not limited to, the hazard categories assigned via the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) and assessments completed by the International Agent for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine (or hormonal) systems. They can cause cancer, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Certain countries like Japan have been actively investigating endocrine disruptors for a decade, and this critical research has been used to inform the ChemAlert metrics around this category.
This category covers chemicals which may cause an allergic reaction in normal tissue. For example, a skin sensitiser is a substance that generates to an allergic response via skin contact, and a respiratory sensitiser leads to hypersensitivity of the airways following inhalation. These sensitisers may be detrimental to health, with chemicals rated according to their risk profile for causing sensitisation.
Environment Measures (Physical, Environment, Waste)
Along with physical health, the impact of hazardous chemicals on the environment is equally assessed. We measure this through Physical, Environmental and Waste categories.
Acute and chronic toxicity measures, such as whether the substance is injurious to an organism either via short-term exposure, or across the life-cycle of the organism, are used to determine environmental impacts.
In addition to toxicity, we also assess the capacity of chemicals to persist or bioaccumulate. Occurring more frequently as our population increases, bioaccumulation refers to the build-up of harmful chemicals and the inability of an organism being able to break down or excrete a chemical that enters it. In these instances, the chemical continues to accumulate until it eventually becomes deadly to the living organism.
Improving and managing your footprint
ChemAlert provides a dashboard of your Chemical Footprint, allowing organisations to visualise its impact, and establish a benchmark which can be reviewed and improved.
ChemAlert also identifies replacement products which will have a lower impact to health or the environment.
Having easy access to this thorough information provides organisations with the insight and tools to make better choices with the use of chemicals, and take steps towards reducing your overall Chemical Footprint.