Determining Chemical Hazard in a World of Incomplete Information: GreenScreen’s New Benchmark Review Process

Determining Chemical Hazard in a World of Incomplete Information: GreenScreen’s New Benchmark Review Process

8/24/2017 Bev Thorpe Blogs

GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals (GreenScreen) was launched by Clean Production Action (CPA) ten years ago. Since then, GreenScreen has become the globally recognized tool for chemical hazard assessment used by major corporations, governments and standard-setting bodies.

The combination of scientific rigor, transparent methodology, and clearly defined benchmarking criteria all contribute to the ongoing use of the GreenScreen tool. GreenScreen Benchmark™ scores are being used in an increasing variety of ways. In addition to supporting internal decision-making around chemicals management and alternatives assessment work, Benchmark scores can be used to earn credits and certifications (e.g., LEED v4 and TCO Certified). Companies are also making public claims using GreenScreen through the newly launched GreenScreen Certified™ program. 

Unfortunately, we live in a chemicals economy where many chemicals have incomplete hazard data. This reality is underscored by the fact that there are somewhere between 25,000 and 84,000 chemicals in commerce in the United States with fewer than 10% of chemicals comprehensively tested for their effects on human health and the environment. This lack of data often necessitates the use of modeling and expert judgment.  

Clean Production Action (CPA) now has a Benchmark Review Process with elements to both prevent and resolve any differences in a Benchmark score for the same chemical being assessed by more than one Licensed Profiler. The GreenScreen Guidance clearly outlines how GreenScreen Profilers – those toxicologists who have met the criteria to become licensed GreenScreen chemical hazard assessors – must respond when conflicting or incomplete hazard data exists. GreenScreen is a conservative assessment tool – taking the most precautionary approach when scientific data might appear contradictory or is lacking altogether. However in the face of incomplete data, sometimes trained toxicologists come to a different conclusion regarding what level of hazard a chemical may pose for a particular adverse health outcome. 

CPA’s role is to mediate the process of the scientific experts, not intervene in the interpretation of the science. Our process to address differences in a Benchmark score includes first mediating a scientific discussion with the Licensed Profiler organizations involved to come to an agreement if possible. When an agreed upon score cannot be reached, CPA convenes an external technical review panel to come up with a harmonized Benchmark score and classification(s). Additional details regarding the Benchmark Review Process are available here.

As GreenScreen chemical hazard assessments continue to grow in popularity and volume, we believe the transparent Benchmark Review Process benefits all stakeholders. The Benchmark Review Process provides the community of Licensed Profilers an opportunity to engage in detailed scientific discourse.  The clients benefit from a fair and transparent process. The Benchmark review process protects the scientific integrity of GreenScreen results and the robustness of decisions made by organizations based on such results.