By Ilana R. Morady, Meagan Newman, and Craig B. Simonsen

The EPA, in an effort to expand the number of chemicals and functional-use categories on its  Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL), is inviting chemical manufacturers to submit their chemicals for review and listing.

The SCIL includes chemicals that have met EPA safety criteria developed by the Design for the Environment Program (DfE). Currently there are about 650 chemicals on the Safer Chemical Ingredients List, but the Agency is seeking to grow that number through this expansion effort.

The EPA developed these “Steps to Listing on SCIL”:

The safer chemical ingredients for use in DfE-labeled products presently fall into these categories:

  • Chelating Agents
  • Colorants
  • Defoamers
  • Enzymes and Enzyme Stabilizers
  • Fragrances
  • Oxidants and Oxidant Stabilizers
  • Polymers
  • Preservatives and Antioxidants
  • Processing Aids and Additives
  • Solvents
  • Specialized Industrial Chemicals
  • Surfactants
  • Uncategorized

These SCIL categories reflect the DfEs “substantial work on cleaning, maintenance, and related products.” Now the DfE would like to encourage innovation in other ingredient classes and product sectors. “Of particular interest are personal care products, as well as institutional/industrial formulations, like those for lubricants and adhesives.”

Chemicals that qualify for listing on Safer Chemical Ingredients List must meet the Criteria for Safer Chemical Ingredients, and would then be eligible for use in products that carry the Safer Product Label, with some exceptions. To see the full Safer Chemical Ingredients List, this Excel spreadsheet is available from EPA.

Applicants for SCIL must fully disclose the chemical(s) in the chemical product under consideration to EPA’s DfE and to a qualified third-party profiler. The third-party profiler will compile hazard information on each chemical and include structure, physical-chemical properties, human health and environmental toxicology, and regulatory status.

For a chemical that would be the first ingredient in a component class or category, EPA suggests the manufacturer request a DfE consultation to “discuss the broader product/ingredient context” (e.g., the chemical and functional parameters of the class, the relationship to other component classes, product types, any hazard or use issues surrounding the class, and the opportunities for further innovation).

This notice may represent an opportunity for manufactures to present their products in new and valuable — Green — ways. Applicants, though, are cautioned to first investigate the likelihood for DfE listing, and any potential downside or liabilities that might be raised in making the “Green” claims.