Inventory and Evaluation of Publicly Available Sources of Information on Hazards and Risks of Industrial Chemicals

Published in Toxicology and Industrial Health

Regulatory authorities from developing countries have expressed a need for guidance in locating environmental, health and safety (EHS) information on industrial chemicals. In response, possible sources were identified via a search of the Internet using relevant terms and by soliciting suggestions from more than 200 knowledgeable stakeholders. This initially identified greater than 100 databases, 41 of which were chosen for further profiling and analysis based on their size and comprehensiveness. They were divided for analysis into three distinct groups: (1) data portals that provide information seekers with an efficient simultaneous search of multiple, third-party owned and maintained databases; (2) primary EHS information sources; and (3) databases that provide only EHS-type regulatory decisions but not raw data. Descriptive evaluations of each database were performed, including: (1) scope; (2) ease of access and use; (3) breadth and depth of EHS information available; (4) quality of the underlying information; and (5) procedures to keep the information current. We conclude that, although there exists EHS information to support screening level hazard and risk assessment for the majority of the highest production volume chemicals, information gaps for lower production volume chemicals persist, and Confidential Business Information claims for some chemicals can limit the information available to the general public. A lack of information on uses and exposures to chemicals, particularly in developing countries is especially challenging. Nevertheless, there are reasons (e.g. advances in regulations, marketplace pressures, and computational toxicology science) to be optimistic that going forward information gaps can be closed at an accelerated rate.

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