Informed Substitution of Chemicals: The Process and Benefits
Replacing hazardous substances with safer alternatives, known as informed substitution, is a key aspect of chemical management. It can be useful for many companies wishing to reduce the health and environmental impact of the chemicals they use. Here we explore the issue of informed substitution, review some of the basic processes involved, and discuss several associated benefits.
The process of chemical substitution can vary greatly based on several factors, including the nature of the chemicals themselves, the needs of the company or entity seeking to perform the substitution, and more. There are several fundamental steps, however, that are common to most substitution efforts:
- Understanding Currently Used Chemical Substances: For any company that deals with chemicals (e.g., manufacturing, processing, general use), a deep and clear understanding of these substances is critical. Among other things, this should incorporate an understanding of their intended uses, properties, effects, and more
- Researching Potential Alternate Chemicals: Any research conducted to assess alternate chemicals should include a comprehensive review and comparison of possible options. There should also be an evaluation of factors related to the chemicals’ use and the potential risks involved.
- Testing: Before implementing any substituted chemicals, significant testing should be conducted. Evaluation of the effects the new chemicals will have on the environment and on human health is essential. There should also be thorough performance assessment.
There are many potential benefits associated with substituting hazardous chemicals with safer ones. While obvious ones include things like improved health and safety and potential cost savings, some related noteworthy benefits include the following:
Doing What Is Right
Many companies view replacing something harmful (i.e., hazardous chemicals) with something less harmful (i.e., safer chemicals) as the right thing to do.
Doing for the Greater Good
When a company substitutes hazardous chemicals with safer ones, it not only decreases risk and increases safety for its employees, but it also does so for consumers that use its products. This can result in significant benefits on an environmental level, as well.
Improving Public Image
When a company takes actions that increase safety for individuals and the environment, it may also result in the company gaining an improved public image.
Having the Right Information
Conducted properly, informed substitution can yield significant benefits on several levels. The key to successful substitution, however, is having the right information and the proper information resources.
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