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Approach to Ranking Alternative Chemicals among the Toxics Release Inventory Chemicals

Chemical alternatives assessments are used to assess alternative chemicals when considering chemical substitution. Using established methods from the field of alternatives assessment, Abt Associates evaluated and ranked Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) listed solvent chemicals based on their human health and environmental hazards.

Specifically, we combined guidance from both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment Criteria for Alternatives Assessment and Washington State’s Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT). The pilot phase of our project evaluated hazard data for 10 solvents listed on the TRI and tested the ability to rank these known toxic chemicals against one another.

Using government and agency chemical databases, we used publically-available toxicology data to classify more than 85 hazard/chemical endpoint combinations as high, medium, or low – or in some instances, very high or very low. Then, by aggregating chemical-specific hazard profile designations, we were able to differentiate and rank the chemicals. The method developed provides a framework through which TRI reporters can inform the selection of an alternative chemical, even if the chemical is still on the TRI list.

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North America