PRIO – A tool for Risk Reduction of Chemicals

Certification bodies / environmental auditors

PRIO can help in dealing with chemical questions in an environmental management system. As an environmental auditor you can use PRIO to obtain information and knowledge. PRIO can be part of the preparatory work before an audit.

PRIO provides information about:

  • Hazardous environmental and health properties of the substances held in the database.
  • Health and environmental properties that are prioritised in the EU legislation in the area of chemicals and in national political strategies.
  • Examples of hazardous substances that may be present in different product groups and that are covered by the tool's criteria.
  • Examples of hazardous substances in different substance groups. Substance groups are, for example, azo dyes, isocyanates and phthalates.
  • How different professional groups can influence the use and handling of substances with particularly hazardous properties.

It is good to have the following points in mind when reviewing and certifying.

  • Companies that handle chemical products or articles should know if they contain substances that are covered by the phase-out criteria. The use of such substances should only take place after  review and assessment that  ruled out that, from a financial and technical perspective, they can be changed to less hazardous alternatives or methods.
  • The use of substances due to be phased out should be reflected in the business by identifying substantial environmental aspects and environmental goals. This should apply both to chemical products and articles. It can also apply to other chemical substances if they are used in such a way that they present unacceptable risks.
  • Companies handling chemical products or articles containing substances that are included at the level of prioritised risk reduction according to PRIO should have a documented risk assessment for all actual use of such substances, and that suitable measures are being taken.
  • Companies handling substances that are covered by either of the PRIO prioritisation levels and have been assessed as having unacceptable risks, or risks that are increased due to the way they are being handled, should have relevant expertise in the area. Functions which within a company may need a certain level of competence within the chemical area are for example strategic management, purchasing, product development and responsibility for production.
  • External interests, such us customers, owners, etc. should where considered relevant be informed that the product contains substances that are covered by the phase-out criteria. Products containing substances that are covered by the prioritised risk reduction criteria should be accompanied by information concerning which chemical environmental and health risks may be present during use and disposal of the products, and if possible concerning the entire life cycle.
  • For successful risk reduction work, good communication is necessary between product development, purchasing, production and where applicable those responsible for environmental matters. Therefore there should be procedures for both internal and external communication of which chemical environmental and health risks may occur as a result of handling chemicals or the company's own products.

Remember that most companies handle chemical products or articles that contain chemicals. As an environmental auditor you must ensure that the company complies with legislation. Refer to the regulations and instructions on the Swedish Chemicals Agency web site www.kemikalieinspektionen.se.

Also remember that such articles as textiles, building materials, etc. may have been treated with hazardous chemical substances that can be released during use and carry a risk of harm to health and the environment. Refer to the Environmental Code, Chapter 2, Section 4 and Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (Reach), article 31.