Frequently Asked Questions
1) How was the study being funded?
The Massachusetts legislature included a budget line item in the state FY06 budget providing a one-year appropriation of $250K for TURI to perform the study.
2) Why was TURI chosen to study these chemicals?
TURI, which is located at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, employs experts in safer materials and technology assessment. For 15 years TURI has offered training, research and information to companies in Massachusetts to support toxics use reduction.
3) How were the chemicals chosen?
Various groups involved in providing input to legislators created a list of 10 chemicals for alternatives study. The amount of the appropriation was later cut and therefore the list of chemicals reduced to the following five chemicalsâ€”lead, formaldehyde, perchloroethylene, hexavalent chromium, di- (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP).
4) Why is this project necessary?
Studies have suggested risk associated with using these chemicals, but the legislature wants information that carefully considers whether suitable alternatives are available, and what the impact of switching to those alternatives would be. Companies are also interested in this study to help them make better choices.
5) What were the goals of the project?
The goals were to 1) develop a methodology for assessing alternatives, 2) involve Massachusetts stakeholders in setting priorities, 3) perform a full alternatives assessment for particular uses and alternatives for the 5 chemicals, 4) produce an on-time, objective, transparent, and useful report assessing alternatives to the five chemicals for the legislature, which will also be available to industry and the public.
6) What was the scope?
The work addressed alternatives assessment of the five chemicals, considering where and how they are used in manufacturing and in products in Massachusetts. Full alternatives assessments were performed for a priority subset of uses of the chemicals. This limiting of the scope targeted resources on the most useful information. The schedule and budget did not allow for every use and alternative to be evaluated or for toxicological studies, scientific research, or technological trials to be conducted.
7) What process did TURI use to investigate safer alternatives?
High priority uses and alternatives were identified with input from Massachusetts stakeholders. Alternatives were first screened to eliminate those with certain recognized high hazards. Alternatives were then assessed relative to the study chemical for key environmental, health and safety, technical and financial indicators. Information was obtained from interviews with technology experts and users and from the literature.
8) How can I use the information provided in the study?
This question is best answered by considering who you are and what you might want from the study. Below are a few examples of how this study might be used. TURI is available to work with you on clarifying how best to use the assessment for your own needs.
- Massachusetts industry (assistance with choosing safer alternatives and designing safer products)
- Massachusetts legislature (policy guidance)
- Consumers, public health officials, environment and labor organizations (education and research)
- TUR planners (TUR options assessment)
- Researchers (reference and for targeting further research)
9) Can I see which uses you considered without reading the entire document?
Appendix B contains all the uses originally identified as TURI conducted its research, and is arranged by chemical. Youâ€™ll find more details about how we prioritized the universe of uses and alternatives in the individual chemical chapters.
10) Are the alternatives you assessed the only ones available?
No. TURI limited the scope of alternatives assessed to those that held the most promise for being technically and economically feasible and safer. Within each chemical chapter you will find a more comprehensive list of potential alternatives as well as justification for our prioritization. In many cases a particular formulation or product was chosen to represent a general type of alternative; this does not mean that other similar products that were not studied are not worthy of consideration. TURI does not contend that it identified all possible alternatives, and you will likely want to do your own research into others that may not have been covered in this study.
11) The summary tables include performance, economic and EH&S considerations. How do I determine if an alternative is better for me?
The summary table is set up to provide a snap-shot picture of these primary considerations relative to the study chemical, and does not rank alternatives. More information is found in the accompanying text. Each individual user of the report will have their own application-specific criteria and priorities, and those should be used to determine preferred alternatives. For example, a user may have particular performance requirements or cost constraints that are critical to their application, or the application may have greater potential for a certain route of human exposure.
12) Why canâ€™t I determine which is the best alternative by adding up the number of â€œ+â€ and â€œ-â€œ in the summary tables?
The â€œ+â€, â€œ-â€, â€œ=â€ and â€œ?â€ are approximate indicators of performance, cost and safety relative to the study chemical for each particular parameter. It should be noted that all parameters should not be considered equally, and their relative importance may be a function of how the chemical or product is used. For example, most users would not consider â€œcarcinogenâ€ with equal weight as â€œirritant.â€ Users must also weigh the importance of missing information (â€œ?â€), particularly with emerging chemicals or technologies.
Users should look to the summary tables, and the supporting assessment text and tables, for guidance in conducting their own assessment of feasibility and preferred alternatives. Their own assessments will include personal or corporate values, priorities, levels of concern/acceptability and situation-specific modifications and additions to the assessments included in this report.