Classifying Chemicals of Concern, Part 2: Know and Understand the Data

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Courtesy of Sphera

Cheat Sheet

  • This is the second blog in a three-part series. You can read Part 1 here.
  • Chemicals of concern are omnipresent in industry.
  • GHS hasn’t led to as much “harmonious” practices as expected.
  • Substance test data is by far the largest set of data that is considered when a hazard evaluation is completed.
  • There is other information to consider from mandatory, advisory and raw material lists as well as product data.

This is the second part of a three-part series regarding chemicals of concern. In Part 1, we discussed the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) framework, the differing adoptions per jurisdiction and the impact this has had on classifying chemicals of concern.

In Part 2, we will discuss the different data types used to evaluate chemicals of concern: substance data, mandatory classification list data, advisory agency classification/list data, raw material data and product data. Knowing what these data types are as well as what should be considered when using them is critical to determining if a material is a chemical of concern of not. So, let’s jump in!

Start With Substance Data

Substance test data is by far the largest set of data that is considered when a hazard evaluation is completed. This data is considered foundational to an overall hazard evaluation. Whether your chemical of concern is a pure substance or a mixture, in most cases, substance data sets the stage for the possible or potential hazards of your product. Substance test data can include published studies such as Lethal Concentration 50 (LC50) and Lethal Dose 50 (LD50) test results for acute toxicity, irritation, sensitization or reproductive test results.

It can also include data from alternative test methods, predicted or modelling data from quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) as well as data from epidemiological studies or information from direct human exposure. This data is vast and complex. There is no one source to obtain all data for a given substance—but boy wouldn’t that be nice!

Substance test data can be found via various sources such as Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) registration dossiers, scientific literature, eCHEM Portal and many, many others. It is important to keep in mind that each source has its own specific purpose and limitations that are imperative to understand to ensure you are using the data appropriately when performing a hazard evaluation. For example, data from the ECHA registration dossiers is entered by its users and this data is not reviewed upon entry. Therefore, while you can find some useful data via this source, there also are potential errors in that data. All in all, this is high value data, and it is the basis for determining if a substance is a chemical of concern.  It is also the foundation for the next type of data we will be discussing, which is mandatory classification list data.