Data on chemical properties
To have knowledge on the intrinsic properties of chemicals is essential in the work to prevent negative effects to human health and the environment. Such data can be used for classification and labelling of chemicals, risk assessment and for prioritisation of risk reduction measures.
Use existing data as far as possible
The hazardous properties of chemicals are usually identified by testing and applying different internationally accepted methods. In some cases, epidemiological studies and accident reports can be used. For many substances, data on intrinsic hazardous properties, established through testing, may be already internationally available through public databases. If no data is available, new testing may be considered.
A compilation of databases can be found on the OECD’s eChemPortal External link.. There you can find direct links to collections of information on chemical hazards and risks prepared for government chemical review programmes at national, regional and international levels. In addition, eChemPortal also provides exposure and use information on chemicals.
To correctly interpret the results of testing, it is important to understand how the testing was performed. The use of internationally accepted and validated methods makes interpretation easier and facilitates exchange of information between countries. Therefore, it is advisable to base any requirements on testing on such standard methods. The OECD guidelines for the testing of chemicals External link. are internationally accepted as standard methods for testing the potential effects of chemicals on human health and the environment.
Important to define responsibilities for generation of data in the legislation
It is reasonable that the responsibility for gathering knowledge, and if necessary, generate new knowledge on chemicals' properties, hazards and risks lies with industry, that is producers and importers of chemicals. They are the ones who develop and use the actual chemicals and should therefore be responsible for having the necessary knowledge. To ensure that industry fulfils this responsibility it is necessary to develop legislation that clearly puts this obligation on industry.
Read more about possible legal text describing responsibilities and obligations of industry in our Guidance on legislation on chemicals placed on the market, section 4.4.
Knowledge on intrinsic properties enables classification and labelling of chemicals
Information on intrinsic properties of chemical substances and mixtures enables classification in accordance with the criteria of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), and communication of this information in the supply chain through package labelling as well as Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
Knowledge on intrinsic properties enables hazard and risk assessment of chemicals
Information on intrinsic properties of chemical substances and mixtures enables assessment of its capacity to interfere with normal biological processes in living organisms, or its capacity to burn, explode, corrode, etc. Hazard assessment means to identify the nature (type) of adverse effects that a chemical substance or a mixture of chemicals substances has the inherent capacity to cause in an organism, system, or population. Together with an estimation of exposure it is possible to assess the risk from use of a chemical.
Illustrations by Maja Modén.