Alternatives Assessment Frameworks: Research Needs for the Informed Substitution of Hazardous Chemicals

Published in Environmental Health Perspectives (Sept. 4, 2015). DOI:10.1289/ehp.1409581

UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 15-32

Posted: 19 Sep 2015

See all articles by Molly M Jacobs

Molly M Jacobs

Independent

Timothy F. Malloy

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Joel Tickner

University of Massachusetts - Lowell Center for Sustainable Production

Sally Edwards

Independent

Abstract

Given increasing pressures for hazardous chemical replacement, there is growing interest in alternatives assessment to avoid substituting a toxic chemical with another of equal or higher concern. Alternatives assessment is a process for identifying, comparing and selecting safer alternatives to chemicals of concern (including those in materials, processes or technologies) on the basis of their hazards, performance, and economic viability. The purpose of this substantive review of alternatives assessment frameworks is to identify consistencies and differences in methods, and to outline needs for research and collaboration to advance science policy practice.

The review compares methods used in six core components of these frameworks: hazard assessment; exposure characterization; life cycle impacts; technical feasibility evaluation; economic feasibility assessment; and, decision-making. Alternatives assessment frameworks published from 1990 to 2014 were included. Twenty frameworks were reviewed. The frameworks were consistent in terms of general process steps but there were some differences identified in the endpoints addressed. Methodological gaps were identified in the exposure characterization, life cycle assessment, and decision-analysis components. Methods for addressing data gaps remain an issue. Greater consistency in methods and evaluation metrics is needed but also sufficient flexibility to allow the process to be adapted to different decision contexts. While alternatives assessment is becoming an important science policy field, there is a need for greater cross-disciplinary collaboration to refine methodologies in support of the informed substitution and design of safer chemicals, materials, and products. Case studies can provide concrete lessons to improve alternatives assessment.

Keywords: alternatives assessments, safer alternatives to chemicals, assessment framework analysis

Suggested Citation

Jacobs, Molly M and Malloy, Timothy F. and Tickner, Joel and Edwards, Sally, Alternatives Assessment Frameworks: Research Needs for the Informed Substitution of Hazardous Chemicals. Published in Environmental Health Perspectives (Sept. 4, 2015). DOI:10.1289/ehp.1409581; UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 15-32. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2662244

Molly M Jacobs

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Timothy F. Malloy (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-794-5278 (Phone)

Joel Tickner

University of Massachusetts - Lowell Center for Sustainable Production ( email )

1 University Ave
Lowell, MA 01854
United States

Sally Edwards

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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