With the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability the European Union provides an important basis for the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). A focus, related to SDG No. 12 “responsible consumption and production”, is a safe and sustainable design of chemicals and materials. With a policy paper, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) intends to contribute from the viewpoint of occupational safety and health.
Three paths for safe-to-use solutions are outlined: direct, integrated and supported safe-to-use chemicals, materials and products. They offer the substance-inherent hazardous properties, the emission behaviour and a safe design of the application as different starting points. All solutions should contribute to a low safety and health risk at work over the entire life cycle, including recycling and disposal, of a chemical or material. However, this also requires the consistent implementation of minimum standards of good industrial hygiene, because it has been known since Paracelsus that there can be no such thing as generally harmless chemical substances, whether they come from the chemical factory or from nature.
The policy paper is mainly addressed to product developers, manufacturers and importers. The best way is to think about safe-to-use solutions at an early stage of chemical, material and product innovations. This offers the greatest possibilities for modifications in the interests of human health and environmental protection. In a running BAuA research, project F 2484 low-emission design approaches for integrated application safety are identified and evaluated.
Dr. Rolf Packroff