OECD Toolbox Glossary

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The terms below will be used throughout the toolbox as they apply to chemicals, chemical alternatives, and alternatives assessments:

Note: The term "chemical" is used synonymously with "substance".

Alternatives assessment: A process for identifying and comparing potential chemical and non-chemical alternatives that can be used as substitutes to replace chemicals or technologies of high concern1

Article: An object, which during production is given a specific shape, surface or design, which determines its function to a greater degree than does its chemical composition2

Chemical hazard assessment: A process for identifying, comparing and selecting safer chemical alternatives to replace hazardous chemicals based on the inherent characteristics of the chemical impacting public health and the environment

Chemical substitution: The process of replacing a chemical of concern with a safer chemical, material or product, or technology/process that eliminates the need to use that chemical

Cost/benefits and availability: The negative (cost) and positive (benefit) implications, direct and indirect, resulting from some action. This includes both financial and non-financial information. Availability refers to the production of an alternative and its market accessibility3

Database/source: A repository of organized information with no mechanism for data manipulation for outside users

Environmental fate: The destiny of a chemical after its release into the environment, including movement and chemical transformations, and characteristics such as bioaccumulation and persistence

Exposure: Contact, inhalation, or ingestion of a chemical, which may occur during chemical production, handling, manufacturing, use and disposal of a product containing that chemical

Functional use approach: This approach starts with identifying the function that is desired. The concept is applied in two ways: first and foremost, to characterize the purpose a chemical or mixture serves, or the properties it imparts in a product or process (functional use), and second, to evaluate the function of the product and how its use may influence the assessment of alternatives4, 5

Hazard: Inherent property of an agent or situation having the potential to cause adverse effects when an organism, system, or population is exposed to that agent, based on its chemical, physical or biological characteristics

Hazard (chemical): Inherent property of a substance having the potential to cause adverse effects when an organism, system, or population is exposed, based on its chemical or physical characteristics

Intrinsic property (of a substance): An intrinsic property of a chemical is a characteristic of the substance, which can be used to determine its fate or to identify potential hazards. Intrinsic properties generally fall into the following areas:
   • physical/chemical properties
   • human toxicological information
   • ecotoxicological information
Data on the intrinsic properties of a substance are categorised into endpoints. For instance, “carcinogenicity” is a human toxicological endpoint. In the meta-review, “Intrinsic properties: hazard” refers specifically to the human and ecological hazard endpoints. “Intrinsic properties: fate” refers to biodegradation and bioaccumulation potential in addition to any other fate endpoints. “Intrinsic properties: physical-chemical” refers to physical-chemical properties of the chemical substance.

Informed substitution: Substitution through bringing together key stakeholders and best available information to address critical areas of environmental and health protection through the transition from chemicals of particular concern to safer chemicals or non-chemical alternatives

Life-cycle assessment (LCA): The assessment of the public health and environmental impacts of a chemical or product throughout its lifespan, for each life cycle stage or process, from extraction and synthesis to disposal (“cradle to grave”) or recovery (“cradle to cradle”), including all processes and environmental releases and recaptures/recoveries

Life-cycle impacts, other: The impacts of using a chemical during its life cycle besides hazard, fate and use-based exposure/risk. Other life-cycle impacts may include global warming, water consumption, and resource depletion

Materials management: Managing materials flow in a manufacturing operation with particular emphasis on natural resource impacts and the generation of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Designing products for material recovery and/or benign release into the environment furthers the concept of ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’ design1

Material substitution: The process of replacing a material containing a chemical of concern with a safer chemical, material, product or technology/process that eliminates the need to use that chemical

Mixture: A composition of at least two chemicals in which they do not react6

Process modification: Changes in manufacturing processes to eliminate, reduce or substitute chemicals of concern. Such changes may include synthesis pathways, waste reduction, and manufacturing procedures where chemicals are used

Product performance: The ability of a product to meet identified performance requirements. The boundaries of performance characteristics are defined by the user3

Product substitution: The process of replacing a product containing a chemical of concern with a chemical, material or product or technology/process that eliminates, reduces or substitutes the need to use that chemical

Publicly available: Free and easily accessible without restriction, for example, downloadable without a fee , or made available upon request

Restricted substance lists: Substances that are legally or voluntarily restricted or are recommended for restriction by authoritative sources due to their hazards

Risk: The probability of harm to human health or the environment posed by exposure to a substance or material of concern. Risk is a function of hazard and exposure, and as the severity of the hazard and/or exposure increases, risk increases3

Social impacts: All relevant impacts, which may affect workers, consumers and the general public and are not covered under health, environmental, or economic impacts (e.g., employment, working conditions, job satisfaction, education of workers, and social security)7

Stakeholder: Any entity (e.g., individual, population or company) that is involved in or impacted by the extraction, synthesis, use or disposal/recovery of a chemical, material or product, or process modification under consideration3

Substance: A chemical element and its compounds in the natural state or obtained by any manufacturing process, including any additive necessary to preserve its stability and any impurity deriving from the processes used, but excluding any solvent which may be separated without affecting the stability of the substance or changing its composition2

Technical feasibility: The determination as to whether the performance or functional requirements of a chemical, material or product could be fulfilled or replaced by eliminating or using an alternative chemical, material, product, process or technology, while considering any need for process adaptations and changes3

Tool: A means (computer based or not, automatic or manual) of converting data into an outcome useful to alternative assessment

Toolbox or Toolkit: A collection of resources relevant to alternative assessment, such regulations, policies, chemical characteristic data, etc.


1 Adapted from Alternatives Assessment Guide, version 1.0. 2013. Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse.

2 REACH. Title I, Chapter 2, Article 3.

3 Current Landscape of Alternatives Assessment Practice: A Meta-Review. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. 2013.

4 U.S. EPA. 2006. National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Committee (NPPTAC) Recommendation to the EPA Administrator and Deputy Administrator on Incorporating the Functional Use Approach into OPPT Activities.

5 Lavoie, E. T., et al. 2010. "Chemical Alternatives Assessment: Enabling Substitution to Safer Chemicals." Environmental Science & Technology 44(24): 9244-9249.

6 Adapted from U.N. Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. 2003.

7 ECHA, 2008. Guidance on Socio-Economic Analysis - Restrictions.