The EPA has announced new criteria to help companies, states and environmental organizations identify safer chemicals as alternatives to those that pose a concern to human health and the environment. The DfE Alternatives Assessments criteria are part of the agency's Design for the Environment (DfE) program.
Information on chemical hazards from DfE Alternatives Assessments is combined with industry data on performance and cost to guide the choice of safer alternatives. To distinguish among alternatives, DfE evaluates data for each chemical and assigns hazard levels of high, moderate or low for human health and environmental concerns.
The assessments will lead to the manufacture of safer products and reduced chemical exposures. For example, replacing bisphenol A (BPA) in thermal paper with safer alternatives will safeguard people from BPA in cash register and sales receipts. Similarly, identifying safer alternatives to decaBDE flame retardants used in textiles and electronics will eliminate an important route of human and environmental exposure to this chemical.