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EPA: Looking for a New Safer Product Label

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The revised set of labels brought about by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) isn’t the only recent development in a move toward more comprehensive – and comprehensible ¬ – product descriptions for chemicals.

On the consumer front, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is redesigning its Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Label to better convey that products bearing the label meet the program’s “rigorous standard to be safer for people and the environment,” according to a news release.

“We want consumers to be able to easily find safer products that work well,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a statement. “The agency wants to hear from the American people on which designs will help people identify household cleaning and other products that are safer for families and the environment.”

The redesigned label is aimed at helping consumers, businesses and institutional buyers recognize products that have attained the EPA Safer Product Label. According to the agency, all ingredients in products bearing the DfE logo have been evaluated by the EPA to make sure they qualify as high-performing and be packaged in an environmentally friendly manner. The criteria address potential health and environmental concerns, including, for example, if an ingredient is associated with causing cancer or reproductive harm, and if it accumulates in human tissue or in the environment. As a condition of the label, all ingredients must be disclosed either on the product or the manufacturer’s website. In effect, the EPA says, when people choose to use these products, they are protecting their families and the environment by making safer chemical choices. In addition to informing consumers, a stated goal of the program is to help partners drive change by providing technical tools, methodologies, and expertise to move toward safer, more sustainable formulations.

According to the agency, more than 2500 products have earned the DfE label to date. A complete list of those products is available at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/formulat/formpart.htm .

From now until Oct. 31, the agency is asking the chemical and product manufacturing industry, retailers, consumers and environmental organizations to share their thoughts on four proposed label designs up until Oct. 31, 2014 at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/label .

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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