Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolbox
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How to use ChemHAT

ChemHAT: How to use this tool

ChemHAT lightbulb logo wearing detective hatChemHAT was created to answer two questions: “Can this chemical in my workplace affect my health?” and “Are there safer alternatives?” You can look up a chemical from a product or MSDS either by its chemical name or, if you have it, its CAS (Chemical Abstracts Services registration) number. When you look up a chemical on ChemHAT:

  • You will see a series of icons that quickly tells you if the chemical has a potential to affect your health, as well as specifics about what kind of health effect the chemical could cause.

  • You will also find information on how a chemical is commonly used and workplaces where you are likely to be exposed.

  • ChemHAT also provides any available information on how you might be exposed to a chemical (e.g., though breathing it or having it touch your skin.)

  • If you’re interested in more detail about how we know about a particular chemical’s health effects, you can click on the “Data Sources” button to be taken directly to the supporting research data.

  • Most importantly, ChemHAT provides a link to information on safer alternatives where such information is available.

Information on Safer Alternatives in ChemHAT

Information on safer alternatives is currently fairly limited, and not easily accessible or linked to information on chemicals in the workplace. Where we have information on safer alternatives, ChemHAT will give you:

  • Links to existing case studies of safer alternatives for the chemical

If we don’t have information on safer alternatives for the chemical you’ve looked up, ChemHAT will give you:

  • Links to general resources for alternatives to commonly used chemicals, such as the European Union’s SubsPORT, the Substitution Portal, or

  • SF Approved, a list of safer alternatives for products commonly purchased by institutional purchasers that has been assembled by San Francisco’s Department of the Environment

What ChemHAT is Now and What We Hope it Will Become

The current version of ChemHAT (September 2012) draws on chemical hazard information that has been compiled by our colleagues at the Healthy Building Network from authoritative lists (see Data Sources for more information). Our goal for the immediate future is to link chemical hazard information in ChemHAT with information on safer alternatives wherever that information is available. Where information on safer alternatives isn’t available, we’d like to recruit you, the users of ChemHAT to help us find or create that information. We’d like the next version of ChemHAT to include information on the top ten or more chemicals of greatest concern in your workplace or industry, and safer alternatives to those chemicals, including information on the cost and availability of those alternatives.

If you’re interested in helping us build safer alternatives information for ChemHAT, please contact us.