PRIO – A tool for Risk Reduction of Chemicals

Banks/insurance companies

The tunnel construction through Hallandsåsen in Sweden, sanitisation of PCB in buildings and the asbestos scandals in the United States are all examples of careless handling and lack of knowledge concerning chemical substance properties, and show that the accompanying risks can be expensive.

As a risk analyst one must assess whether the company being checked has procedures to evaluate and manage risks. PRIO can be a source of information and knowledge in this work, but has not been specifically designed for this purpose.

In the work of assessing risks in the use and handling of chemicals, it is important to understand the difference between hazard and risk. When using chemicals it is the risk that should be decisive for the assessment that is being done. Risk consists of two factors, one being the intrinsic properties possessed by the chemical (hazard) and the other being the way the chemical is used or handled (exposure).

This tool can be used to identify the hazardous properties of a chemical substance. Different properties give rise to different risk pictures in different situations. Those who make assessments must themselves add the information about how the substances are being used and handled to ensure that the decision is made on a complete appreciation of the circumstances. It is important to be aware of the risks that a substance can give rise to and that the affected people themselves decide how to manage the possible risks.

PRIO divides substances into two priority levels, phase-out and prioritised risk reduction. In the case of substances to be phased out, the hazard is considered to be so great that all use is seen to be unsuitable. In the case of prioritised risk reduction the company can continue to use the substance, as long as sufficient risk reduction measures are taken. Continuing to use a prioritised risk reduction substance can be a solution if the function that the substance offers provides the lowest burden on health and the environment given by a product.

With the aid of PRIO you can:

  • Improve your understanding of the environmental and health risks associated with chemicals.
  • Ask the right questions when evaluating risks.
  • Check that there are procedures for managing risks. In Review the risk there is a brief overview of which questions should be taken into account in order to review the environmental and health risks that can arise while handling chemicals.
  • Find out which of the chemicals used in the company have particularly hazardous health or environmental properties. Carcinogenic, allergenic or ozone-depleting are examples of substance properties.
  • Find out which properties are particularly hazardous in the long term and look at examples of such substances.
  • Find out more about which environmental and health properties are held by substances within a certain applications area. If the company being evaluated for example manufactures a certain type of chemical product, you can obtain help in finding substances that may be contained in such products. You can see if products contain substances with properties that mean there is special reason to see how the substance is handled and the risks that may arise.
  • Learn more about the different substance groups and what they are used for. Examples of substance groups you can find in PRIO are: organotin compounds, azo dyes, phthalates and isocyanates, etc.