Chemicals Policy & Science Initiative LCSP
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The goal of the interagency alternatives assessment webinar series is to educate federal, state, and local government agencies on the approaches, practices, and challenges of alternatives assessment for informed substitution. The webinars allow for networking and sharing of experiences of government experts in chemical alternatives assessment, both chemical assessment and application. These webinars are open to local, state and federal government agencies. To join the interagency alternatives assessment listserv, for updates and information sharing, please send an email to Joel Tickner.

Upcoming Webinars


Past Webinars

Advancing safer flame retardants through informed substitution. 

Wednesday, April 30, 12pm est Three previous interagency alternatives assessment webinars focused on the challenges of informed substitution in the case of flame retardant chemicals, including hazard and safety trade-offs, possible overly stringent fire performance standards, and challenges in evaluating the alternatives and ensuring their safety.  This discussion webinar takes the lessons from the three webinars and explores how interagency collaboration on flame retardant hazards and substitutes may help enhance the dual goals of fire safety and human and ecological health. 

Alternatives assessment in exposure-based safety standards:  Are they mutually exclusive?

Wednesday, April 16, 12pm est Alternatives assessment is focused on evaluating safer alternatives for a particular functional use and application of a chemical, primarily on the basis of intrinsic hazard and exposure properties.  In and of itself, alternatives assessment does not ensure a “safe” chemical but rather identifies safer options.  Yet, many agencies implement policies that are primarily focused on establishment of “acceptable” or threshold emissions or exposures or risk-based safety standards that tend to have a more black and white approach – where a chemical either meets the standard, does not meet it, or exceeds it.  What is the role of alternatives assessment in regulatory agencies whose mandate is to ensure safety or avoid unacceptable risks?  How can alternatives assessment support informed substitutes in such instances that meet safety standards.  Where does exposure assessment fit in in such efforts? Can we get avoid time consuming and resource intensive debates over acceptable levels of exposure if we focus on alternatives assessment? The purpose of this discussion webinar is to discuss the role of alternatives assessment in standards-based agencies and programs, including how alternatives assessment can help enhance the ability of an agency to support companies in complying with a standard as well as how alternatives assessments can help avoid unintended consequences that might result from complying with a standard affecting one media or population.

Alternatives Assessment 120: Alternatives Assessment for Engineered Nanoparticles


  • Molly Jacobs, Lowell Center for Sustainable production
  • Dr. Jennifer Sass, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Dr. Lauren Heine, Clean Production Action

Chemical alternatives assessment processes were developed based on characteristics and endpoints of concern for traditional bulk chemicals. The emergence of engineered nanomaterials adds a new set of challenges for alternatives assessment given their unique physical characteristics, potentially novel mechanisms of toxicity, and minimal toxicity data to evaluate hazards. This webinar presents some of the challenges of applying chemicals alternatives assessment to engineered nanomaterials and a case study of application of the GreenScreen to nanosilver. The webinar will also explore the opportunities for integrating nanomaterials into existing alternatives assessment processes.

Alternatives Assessment 119: The Role of Alternatives Assessment in Chemical Accident Prevention


  • Dr. Nicholas Ashford, MIT
  • Dr Gerald Poje, Former Board Member Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
  • Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

In the wake of a number of high profile chemical accidents, Presidential Executive Order 13650 on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security of August 2013 requires that federal agencies more effectively coordinate activities to improve chemical plant safety. The Executive Order specifically calls out the need to explore options to adopt safer chemicals and inherently safer technologies. Beginning in the mid-1990s a number of federal and state initiatives attempted to integrate the concepts of pollution prevention and chemical accident prevention around the concept of alternatives assessment. This webinar explores the role of alternatives assessment in chemical accident prevention and the opportunities the Executive Order presents for more effective interagency collaboration around safer chemicals.

Alternatives Assessment 118: Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse Alternatives Assessment Guide

  • Alex Stone, Senior Chemist, Washington Department of Ecology

The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) has developed a guide to assist businesses and governments in evaluating alternatives to toxic chemicals in products. The Guide is designed help create safer products and reduce the impact that chemicals have on human health and the environment. IC2’s members have been collaborating on developing common definitions and best practices around the alternatives assessment process for several years. This common framework is the basis for the Guide. The Guide is built on the alternatives assessment process pioneered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment Program. The IC2 has been working with companies, EPA, and others to share results and best practices. Alex Stone, Senior Chemist, Safer Consumer Alternatives for the Washington Department of Ecology, coordinated the effort and will present on the Guide, its background and uses, as well as stakeholder input received.

Alternatives Assessment 117: Challenges in Selecting Alternatives and Implementing Substitution – Cross Agency Perspectives

  • Alissa Cordner, Whitman College
  • Treye Thomas, CPSC
  • Chris Weis, NIEHS
  • Paul Yaroshak, US Department of Defense

The Alternatives Assessment webinars 114, 115, and 117 are focused on Flame Retardants. This topic has been selected in response to interest by the Interagency Alternatives Assessment Group Steering Committee to explore the complexities, challenges, and opportunities for safer chemistry in addressing concerns about flame retardant chemicals. Flame retardant chemicals provide an excellent example of an interagency chemicals management challenge.  Flame retardants serve important fire protection roles, but concerns have been raised about the environmental persistence and toxicity of many current flame retardants and their replacements. Restrictions on flame retardant chemicals of concern may have had the unintended consequence of their replacement by other problematic substances.  In some cases, substitution has not been accompanied by careful alternatives assessments.  In addition, discussion has been increasing about the nature of and need for flame retardant requirements in some applications. This webinar will wrap up the series and provide an overview of the challenges of flame retardant substitution and opportunities for future collaboration.

Alternatives Assessment 116: Transitioning to Safer Chemicals to Protect Workers 

  • Ylva Gilbert, GAIA, Finland
  • Nuria Cavelle-Oller, European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
  • Rebecca Reindel, US Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Jessica Schifano, US Occupational Safety and Health Administration

In October, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched its new website:  “Transitioning to Safer Chemicals:  A Toolkit for Employers” to support employers in making informed chemical substitution decisions.  Similarly, in 2012, the Directorate General for Labor of the European Commission launched its new guide on “Minimising chemical risk to workers’ health and safety through substitution” for a similar purpose.  In this webinar, the authors of the OSHA toolkit and the European Union guide will provide an overview of their support tools and how they are or can be used in practice.

Alternatives Assessment 115: Identifying Safer Alternatives to Flame Retardants that are/contain Chemicals of Concern

  • Elizabeth Harriman, Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute,
  • Emma Lavoie, US EPA, Design for Environment Branch

Alternatives Assessment 114: Flame Retardants: Framing the Issue

  • Alex Morgan, University of Dayton Research Institute
  • Rick Davis, National Institute for Standards and Technology (Invited)
  • Heather Stapleton, Duke University

Flame retardant chemicals provide an excellent example of an interagency chemicals management challenge. Flame retardants serve important fire protection roles, but concerns have been raised about the environmental persistence and toxicity of many current flame retardants and their replacements. Restrictions on flame retardant chemicals of concern may have had the unintended consequence of their replacement by other problematic substances. In some cases, substitution has not been accompanied by careful alternatives assessments. In addition, discussion has been increasing about the nature of and need for flame retardant requirements in some applications.

Alternatives Assessment 113: Addressing Trade-offs in Alternatives Assessment Processes

  • Adam Finkel, UMDNJ School of Public Health
  • Kathy Hart, US EPA
  • Ann Blake, Environmental and Public Health Consulting

Alternatives assessment is a critical element of informed substitution of chemicals of concern. “Uninformed” substitution can lead to unintended consequences that have the potential to shift risks between workers, consumers, and the environment. In this webinar we will explore the challenges of addressing possible unintended consequences in substitution decisions, discuss the distinction between real and hypothetical risk trade-offs, and identify approaches for identifying and minimizing unintended consequences of safer chemicals decisions from a manufacturing, product, and lifecycle perspective.

Background Information

Alternatives Assessment in Regulatory Policy: History and Future Directions

Design for the Environment (DfE) Program Life-Cycle Assessment Studies

Developing Regulatory Alternatives Analysis Methodologies for the California Green Chemistry Initiative

Solution-Focused Risk Assessment: A Proposal for the Fusion of Environmental Analysis and Action


Alternatives Assessment 112: Prioritizing Chemicals of Concern in Alternatives Assessment

  • Maria Doa, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Danie Dube, Environment Canada
  • Jack Geibig, Ecoform

Given the large number of chemicals and uses of those in commerce, many private and public sector alternatives assessment initiatives often begin with prioritization processes. A wide range of chemical prioritization, ranking, and scoring processes have been developed over the past twenty years. These have served to identify priority chemicals, uses, processes and sectors for alternatives assessment as well as risk management. While all of these processes include chemical hazard evaluation, employing a range of endpoints and criteria, chemical exposure and use have been addressed to a varying degree across these schemes. This webinar will present three different prioritization approaches, how different agencies have addressed chemical prioritization, and potential harmonization across these approaches.

Background Information

TSCA Work Plan Chemicals

TSCA Work Plan Chemicals: Methods Document


Alternatives Assessment 111: The Interstate Clearinghouse on Chemicals Alternatives Assessment Guidance Document Process

Alex Stone, WA Department of Ecology

In winter, 2013, the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse and participating member states released a draft copy of the Guidance for Alternatives Assessment and Risk Reduction. The guidance, led by the Washington Department of Ecology is designed to provide governments and industry a consistent process to make better, more informed decisions about the use of toxic chemicals in the products or processes and the transition to safer chemicals.  The current draft alternative assessment guidance consists of twelve individual modules.  That have been based on feedback received from stakeholders and input from multi-disciplinary team of state and federal government experts.  The document is available for download at:


Background Information

IC2 Guidance for Alternatives Assessment and Risk Reduction


Alternatives Assessment 110: Collaborations to Advance Safer Alternatives- Examples and Models

Monica Becker, Monica Becker and Associates
Kate Winnebeck, New York Pollution Prevention Institute

There is an increasing acknowledgement of the challenges of identifying, evaluating, and adopting safer chemicals and materials.  And with this acknowledgement there is a growing understanding of the need for supply chain, government, academic and non-profit collaboration to advance application of alternatives assessment for informed substitution.  In this webinar, we will present two case examples of collaborations between academic institutions and other stakeholders to prioritize and evaluate safer chemistries.  These examples provide numerous lessons for the role of government in supporting alternatives assessment and adoption of safer chemistries.  The two examples are:
A Framework to Assess the Risk of a Chemical Product Portfolio
- A Collaborative AA to Identify Safer Alternatives to DEHP in Electronics Wire & Cable


Alternatives Assessment 109: Advancing Informed Substitution and Safer Chemistry In Government Procurement

Dana Arnold, General Services Administration
Elizabeth Meer, New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Edward H. Rau, Environmental Protection Division, ORF DHHS-National Institutes of Health

Advancing informed substitution and safer chemistry in government procurement. Governments are among the largest institutional purchasers and have a potentially large influence in marketplace for more sustainable products. Federal and state policies are increasingly requiring government agencies to purchase more climate friendly, recyclable and, in some cases, less toxic products. Nonetheless, procurement officers face a number of challenges that inhibit their ability to broadly advocate for safer chemicals, including limited criteria for safer chemicals, challenges in reviewing toxicological data, and competing considerations in purchasing. This webinar will present and overview of state and federal initiatives to integrate informed chemical substitution into purchasing decisions, lessons learned, and opportunities for more effective collaboration in the future.


Alternatives Assessment 108:Lifecycle Consideration in the Context of Alternatives Assessment

Bob Boughton, California Department of Toxic Substances Control
Frans Christensen, COWI Consultants, Denmark
Stig Olsen, Technical University of Denmark

Alternatives assessments to date have generally compared primarily chemical hazards either in production processes or products. Yet, chemical substitutions may result in changes in both process and upstream and downstream chemical hazards. They may also present trade-offs in terms greater energy or material use. While lifecycle assessment has been used as a tool to evaluated and compare product lifecycle hazards, the tool has been criticized for its limited treatment of chemical hazards and overemphasis on energy and material consumption. The goal of this webinar is to explore how and when lifecycle considerations should be considered in the context of a chemicals alternatives assessment, tools and approaches for evaluating lifecycle impacts, and limitations in current approaches.

Background Information

ECHA Guidance on the Preparation of Socio-Economic Analysis as Part of an Application for Authorization

ECHA Guidance on Socio-Economic Analysis - Restrictions


Alternatives Assessment 107: Criteria for Defining Safer Alternatives

Cal Baier Anderson, Design for Environment Branch, US Environmental Protection Agency
Hortensia Muniz-Ghazi, California Department of Toxic Substances Control
Joel Ticker, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Defining what is a safer alternative is a nebulous concept. In some cases a safer chemical or product is defined by statute. In other cases it is defined by guidance. It can differ between regulatory and non-regulatory programs. Safer can be defined by particular hazard criteria (carcinogenic potential, acute toxicity) or level of risk in a dichotomous manner (does it meet a safety standard, does it present an unreasonable risk or does it pass some threshold). The goal of the webinar is to engage a discussion on how “safer” is defined by different agencies. Rather than focus on agreement of definitions, it is important to understand differences in approaches, criteria, and whether commonalities exist. What are limitations exist around each agency’s ability to define the term? How does it differ for regulatory versus discretionary policies? Are there challenges for an agency to define safer?

Alternatives Assessment 106: The Role of Exposure Information in Alternatives Assessment

Donna Heidel, CDC/NIOSH Education and Information Division
• Elaine Cohen Hubal, U.S. EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT)
Treye Thomas, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Comparative chemical hazard assessment activities – the heart of many alternatives assessment efforts - to date have focused on a comparison of the intrinsic hazards of chemicals with the general assumption that exposure remains relatively constant for chemicals used for the same functional use. However, changes in chemicals may result in changes in exposure (in intensity or type) in the manufacturing or use and disposal phases of a substitute. Further, as there is no “safe” chemical, under many statutes, agencies have a responsibility to ensure the safety of products, in which case having some understanding of exposure potential is important. While it is important that alternatives assessments not get overly burdened in detailed quantitative risk comparisons, it is important to identify tools and approaches to characterize exposure potential.

Alternatives Assessment 105: Supporting Adoption of Safer Alternatives

Anna Magnum, NCSU, Industrial Extension Service
•Tom Murray, EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Pollution Prevention Division
• Anahita Williamson, New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at RIT

Alternatives assessment requires both a focus on both the comparative evaluation of alternatives as well as the adoption of those alternatives. Innovation requires both willingness to innovate (often the result of policy or market forces) as well as capacity. Capacity to innovate or adopt safer alternatives is often lacking at the small and medium firm level. In this webinar presenters will describe how adoption of safer alternatives is being supported through technical assistance, education and outreach.


Alternatives Assessment 104: How Agencies are Incentivizing the Adoption of Alternatives

• Chris Geiger and Jessian Choy from the City of San Francisco Office of Environment
• Greg Morose, Heidi Wilcox and Johnny Le from the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute

Alternatives assessment requires both a focus on both the comparative evaluation of alternatives as well as the adoption of those alternatives. In this webinar presenters will describe how adoption of safer alternatives is being incentivized and supported through policies, recognition, supply chain dialog, research and technical assistance.

Alternatives Assessment 103: Case Examples and Lessons Learned

Pam Eliason, MA Toxics Use Reduction Institute
Cal Baier-Anderson, USEPA, Design for Environment
Alex Stone, WA Department of Ecology

There are numerous government agency efforts to assess alternatives to chemicals of concern. While some look broadly at comparing alternatives on the basis of their hazard traits, others look more closely at performance and application. This webinar will present three case studies of conducting alternatives assessments involving perchloroethylene in dry cleaning; bisphenol-a in thermal register tape; and deca-brominated diphenyl ether in electronics and textiles. They will discuss the challenges faced in conducting alternatives assessment and how these challenges were addressed by the agency.

Background Information

EPA Bisphenol A Action Plan

State of Washington Department of Ecology: PBDE Chemical Action Plan

Alternatives Assessment 102: How Alternatives Assessment Concepts are Being and Can be Integrated into Agency Initiatives

Rebecca Reindel, Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Donna Heidel, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Julie Fishman, Centers for Disease Control

Several state and federal agencies are incorporating regulatory or non-regulatory efforts on alternatives assessment for informed substitution into their work. Yet most agencies have not been able to do so in a systematic way. The goal of this webinar is to better understand how alternatives assessment has and can be applied across agencies and what types of collaborations, tools, and support would be useful is supporting greater application of and cooperation around alternatives assessment.

Alternatives Assessment 101: An Introduction to Alternatives Assessment for Informed Substitution

Pam Eliason, Toxics Use Reduction Institute, UMASS Lowell

• Joel Tickner, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, UMASS Lowell

An overview of the history of the movement towards use of the alternatives assessment process as a policy tool to promote informed substitution activities and the general overview of the alternatives assessment process itself was the focus of the first webinar of the series.

Background Information

National Conversation on Public Health and Chemicals Exposures

ECHA Guidnce on the Preparation of an Application for Authorization

EPA DfE: Alternatives Assessment Criteria for Hazard Evaluation

NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topics: Control Banding


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