Conducting chemical assessment

Whilst it may be assumed that products sold are chemically safe as a result of legislation, or that full chemical hazard assessments are carried out on building products and materials, this is not always the case.  Full information on chemicals contained in building products is not always provided as part of procurement or specifications in building design and planning.  Additionally, in the complex construction supply chain, the choice of product or material may also be changed at a later stage. 

Improving the transparency and accessibility of chemical data and hazard information in the construction sector is crucial.  Where full information is not available, it can fall on actors at all stages of the value chain to take responsibility for ensuring chemical risks have been assessed - this may include chemical producers, manufacturers, brands, retailers, achitects, designers and procurers.

Ensuring a chemical hazard assessment has taken place is a vital aspect of material selection or procurement.  A key part of this process is establishing an initial inventory of materials and chemical ingredients contained in the product or material.

Once this has been done, various tools and resources are available to assess risks and impacts of chemicals.  Some of these provide more detailed information and allow modelling of use scenarios, such as the USEtox model.  Other resources provide hazard profiles for chemicals, such as the ChemSec SIN list, an extensive database developed through collaboration between scientists and technical experts, and used by professionals around the globe.

This section also includes selected Restricted Substances Lists (RSL) that can be used to identify chemicals that have undergone assessment and are not considered to be safe.