Quickly Identify Alternatives to Hazardous Content Using Pharos

HBN | April 2020 | Newsletter

Whether you are a manufacturer interested in screening product content, an architect or contractor wanting to make more informed decisions about building materials, or a member of the public health community working with the built environment, Pharos combines a number of tools that will save time and enhance your workflow. Here is a three step process that demonstrates how, by combining these tools, you can quickly identify alternatives to hazardous content present in building materials. You can also see how easy this process is with an example in our quick and interactive tutorial.

Step One: View the chemicals that are most commonly found in your products
Most people don't have the time to devote to researching which products are the least toxic, and the information, if disclosed, can be misleading and confusing to sift through. Fortunately, Pharos summarizes 20 years’ worth of building product content research into 150 (and growing) data records called Common Product profiles. These profiles deliver curated content, identifying the chemicals that are most commonly present in a given product type, such as luxury vinyl tile or extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation. The profiles break down the amount of each chemical that is likely to be present in each material within a product, and also identify a chemical's function within that material. All of the information in a Common Product links directly to the hazard data in Pharos, so it is easy to identify problematic chemicals in any given product type.  

Step Two: Identify safer chemical alternatives in those products
Now that you know the chemicals typically found in products, wouldn't it be great to understand what alternative chemicals could be used in that product? Pharos' Common Products now allow users to view all contents identified in HBN's research that may be used in a product. Chemicals are identified by their primary functional role in a product, so it is easy to see where alternatives exist to hazardous substances that fulfill particular roles within a given product type. This is carefully researched content, and represents the most current data available at the time of publication.

Step Three: Harness the power of Pharos to identify safer alternatives
Of course, once you have your list of chemicals serving a particular function, how do you know which ones have the fewest hazards associated with them? The exciting news is that now Pharos incorporates a chemical comparisons tool, so users can easily screen up to 500 chemicals simultaneously. Add that list of chemical alternatives to a comparison with a couple of clicks and screen them against more than 40 hazard lists and more than 30 restricted substances lists! You can save hours of time per chemical over screening and translating these lists manually. You can also save comparisons to view them later, and download them into a spreadsheet. 

Once you have a list of potential safer alternatives, generate a full chemical hazard assessment using a service such as ChemForward

Pharos continues to consolidate a wealth of hazard information related to chemicals and building materials in one place. The integration of Data Commons into Pharos makes it an even more powerful tool than before. In this article we have outlined just one way that Pharos users can leverage the new site to save time in identifying chemical hazards, identifying where better options may exist, and calling out alternatives for future assessment. There are certainly many more ways to use the site, and there are other exciting new features available as well. We invite you to explore the newly updated Pharos and to let us know what you think by submitting a comment here.