Alternatives Assessment Guide

New as of January 2017: The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) is pleased to release an updated version (v1.1) of the IC2 Alternatives Assessment Guide (Guide), with substantive changes to the Exposure Module that bring the Guide into closer agreement with the National Academy of Sciences' A Framework to Guide Selection of Chemical Alternatives.

The IC2 published the first version (v1.0) of the Guide, a comprehensive look at the developing science of alternatives assessments, in January 2014. It was the product of 20 months of effort by IC2's members. The Guide provides assessors with three potential frameworks and sufficient flexibility to allow a wide range of users to conduct an alternatives assessment to replace toxic chemicals in products or processes with safer alternatives.

An alternatives assessment is a set of tools that manufacturers, product designers, businesses, governments, and other interested parties can use to make better, more informed decisions about the use of toxic chemicals in their products or processes. The IC2 collaborated with businesses and non-governmental organizations on the development of the Guide.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) used v1.0 of the Guide as a source document during formalization of its alternatives assessment method, documented in A Framework to Guide Selection of Chemical Alternatives. The NAS placed an increased emphasis on comparative exposure assessment, which is used to determine "... if the alternatives would be expected to result in substantially equivalent exposures...". The NAS committee indicated that "... simplified exposure estimates without elaborate exposure modeling can meet the needs of many alternatives assessments".

The first version of the Guide incorporated many of the principles of comparative exposure assessment, and the IC2's recent update to v1.1 clarifies how comparative exposure can be used within the Guide's frameworks to conduct an alternatives assessment.

In addition to the Guide, the IC2 prepared two Response-to-Comment (RTC) documents. The summary RTC document groups comments received and documents how the Guide was either updated or not altered based upon input received. The detailed RTC document contains a response to each individual comment.

The responses in both RTC documents are identical; the full comments are available only in the detailed document. Comments on all of the documents created during the development of the Guide are available for review. The comments received to date have been grouped into the following categories:

The IC2 understands the benefits of consistency in alternatives assessments but recognizes that one approach will not work in all situations. The Guide was designed to be very comprehensive and includes three ways in which an alternatives assessment can be conducted.

The Guide was created with an extensive stakeholder involvement process, including:
  • Initial scoping of the project
  • Release of the modules as they were completed for review and comment
  • Three industry workshops
  • Two free webinars
  • A 60-day comment period

All comments were summarized in the RTC documents.

For questions concerning the Guide, contact Topher Buck, 617-367-8558.


Evaluation of the IC2 Alternatives Assessment Guide

As part of its continuing effort to provide good alternatives assessment guidance, the IC2 initiated a review of the Guide. A team led by ToxServices created a uniform data set based upon work on alternatives to copper anti-fouling paint conducted by the U.S. and California EPAs. The ToxServices team expanded this work to include chemical hazard assessments of components in several alternatives and split into three independent assessment groups to conduct alternatives assessments as described within the Guide. The intent of this work, however, was not to evaluate alternatives to copper anti-fouling paint but to provide input on how the Guide could be improved. The result of this work, Assessing Alternatives to Copper Antifouling Paint: Piloting the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) Alternatives Assessment Guide, has been released. A number of GreenScreens® produced in the course of this project are available through the IC2 Chemical Hazard Assessment Database.