The Health First Roadmap is intended to provide specific guidance to cleaning product companies on chemical screening and safety.
The roadmap outlines the key categories included in company chemical screening, and benchmarks from “compliance” to the “high road” the ways companies can make progress towards an approach that puts health first.
Companies put human health and the environment first. The set of chemicals they allow in their products is very limited to only those that pose no potential health risks to consumers at any level, regardless of exposure pathways. They are transparent about their chemical screening efforts and criteria, and they lead collaborative efforts to move the cleaning products industry towards safer production.
Companies ensure that their products do not contain chemicals of concern to human health or the environment. They stay ahead of regulatory changes by prohibiting chemicals deemed hazardous by any jurisdiction in the world and those that consumers and NGOs are concerned about, regardless of levels or exposure pathways.
Companies take action by prohibiting or restricting chemicals deemed hazardous by any jurisdiction in the world, including any chemical for which new regulations emerge. They seek to make these changes across all cleaning products, regardless of levels or exposure pathways.
Companies take no additional action to restrict or prohibit chemicals of concern than is currently required by law. They continue to use chemicals deemed hazardous in other jurisdictions.
This section focuses on the corporate policies companies use to manage chemicals across all their brands, including goals for reducing chemicals of high concern, and whether progress has been made towards the meeting goals established in the policy.
Company has a stated chemicals policy with goals for reducing chemicals of high concern and/or increasing the use of safer chemicals. Measuring a company’s use of chemicals of high concern in products and progress towards using safer alternatives. This includes participating in the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) survey, and making the information public.
Company has made progress on reducing or eliminating chemicals of high concern in products.
This section encompasses specific approaches, methods and criteria for evaluating chemicals, determining chemicals of high concern to reduce or eliminate, and assessing alternatives to avoid regrettable substitution.
Process company uses to determine chemicals of high concern to human health, the environment, or of increasing concern to consumers. This includes specific health and environmental endpoints considered, and how the company uses authoritative lists of chemicals of concern established by scientific and governmental organizations. Encompasses approaches to hazard and exposure assessments and criteria for eliminating chemicals and/or establishing thresholds for chemicals to be restricted. This is a central question in differentiating how one company defines “safe” compared to another.
Chemicals that the company does not use or uses in restricted amounts in formulated products. Based on process described in 2A (above), the Restricted Substances List (RSL) a company develops constitutes the set of chemicals it is actively working to reduce or eliminate.
When replacing a chemical with an alternative, company has a commitment to and process for assessing alternatives to identify safer substitutes and avoid regrettable substitution.
Also addresses the criteria by which enough reports of adverse reactions from product users prompt additional action, including reformulation, redesign, and product discontinuation.
Standards and practices company uses to ensure that commitment to chemical and product safety incorporates fragrance chemicals, whether the company is a formulator or contracts with external fragrance suppliers.
This section looks at whether companies publicly share information about their safer chemicals policies, practices, and criteria. The Chemical Footprint Project is a third-party, industry-friendly, and NGO-supported tool available to measure a company’s use of chemicals of high concern. When companies choose to make their survey responses and score public, this is another way to approach transparency in this arena.
Public disclosure of information about a company’s chemical screening process and criteria, and public reporting on measurable progress through annual sustainability reports (or other print or online communications). Also addresses how the company tracks and responds to adverse reactions reported to them by product users, and its willingness to share reports externally.
Measuring a company’s use of chemicals of high concern in products and progress towards using safer alternatives. This includes participating in the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) survey, and making the information public.
This section highlights the importance of collaboration among companies that manufacture cleaning products. Such collaborations as the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals initiatives are included here as the model, where members share the goal of eliminating the use of hazardous ingredients and the presence of hazardous contaminants.
Demonstrable efforts to work collaboratively, share information relevant to chemical screening and safer chemicals, and developing tools and practices that raise the standards across the industry.
Currently, no company in the cleaning products sector is fully transparent about how it manages chemicals and ensures that it is using safe ingredients. This is both a serious problem for public health and for companies that are committed to building consumer trust. Read more.
The Health First Roadmap is the result of the combined talents of Sarada Tangirala (lead author) and Alexandra Scranton, with editorial review provided by Jamie McConnell, Erin Switalski, and Beth Conway.
Special thank you to the Health First Advisory Committee:
Ann Blake, Ph.D., Environmental & Public Health Consulting
Sally Edwards, Sc.D., Senior Research Associate, UMass Lowell Center for Sustainable Production
Roger McFadden, President, McFadden and Associates, LLC
Mark Rossi, Ph.D., Executive Director, Clean Production Action