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Alternatives Assessment Guidance

Alternatives assessment is a process for comparing alternatives, usually to a chemical of concern and identifying those that are safer. It is different from a safety assessment, where the primary goal is to ensure that exposure is below a prescribed standard; different from risk assessment, where risk associated with a given level of exposure is calculated; and different from a sustainability assessment, which considers all aspects of a chemical's life cycle, including energy and material use. The goal of an alternatives assessment is to facilitate an informed consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of alternatives to a chemical of concern, resulting in the identification of safer alternatives. 

National Academy of Sciences

This new framework from the National Academy of Sciences allows the evaluation of the full range of benefits and shortcomings of substitutes, and examination of tradeoffs between these risks and factors such as product functionality, product efficacy, process safety, and resource use. Through case studies, this report demonstrates how different users in contrasting decision contexts with diverse priorities can apply the framework. 


In October 2021, TURI developed a Guide to Finding Safer Alternatives to Halogenated Solvents Used in Surface Cleaning Applications. The report provides information about a suite of safer alternative chemistries and equipment that can be used to replace halogenated solvents in surface cleaning applications.

TURI conducted an assessment of alternatives to five chemicals of concern - lead, formaldehyde, perchloroethylene, hexavalent chromium, and di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) -  in 2006.  As part of this seminal work, we created guidance for the process. 

US Environmental Protection Agency: Design for the Environment (DfE)

EPA uses alternatives assessments to look for safer chemicals. Design for the Environment (DfE) alternatives assessments are conducted as risk management actions when warranted for TSCA Work Plan Chemicals. They have also been conducted under Chemical Action Plans

Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2)

The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) is an association of state, local, and tribal governments that promotes a clean environment, healthy communities, and a vital economy through the development and use of safer chemicals and products. The IC2 is a collaboration between multiple US States interested in promoting the use of Alternatives Assessment as the preferred method for creating a safer chemicals economy.  The IC2 Alternatives Assessment Guide is designed to enable standardization of the alternatives assessment process.  

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Toolbox

This toolbox is a compilation of resources relevant to chemical substitution and alternatives assessments.