The chemical hazard information contained in ChemHAT comes from the Chemical and Material Library (CML) created by the Healthy Building Network for its Pharos database of chemicals and materials in building products. The CML is a first-of-its-kind database that checks a library of over 22,000 chemicals and materials against 30 authoritative chemical hazard lists (see description below) ) and nine restricted substances lists developed by state, national, and international governmental agencies and other reputable, science-based non-governmental organizations.
When you look up a chemical in ChemHAT, you’ll find icons indicating the health effects the chemical can cause, as well as information about how you’re likely to be exposed to the chemical (e.g., by breathing it, or having it touch your skin or eyes.) If you’re interested in knowing where we got the information about that particular health effect, click on the “How We Know” link to the right of the hazard icon you’re interested in. Chemicals that have health effects icons in ChemHAT are verified by scientists as having specific effects on health or the environment (see below for an explanation of Authoritative Lists.)
Hazard Information and Authoritative Lists
There are two main types of lists associated with chemical hazards in the information we draw from Pharos: chemical hazard lists and restricted substance lists (RSLs). Here’s how Pharos describes their data sources:
A variety of state, national and international governmental bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) maintain authoritative chemical hazard lists. These are lists of substances for which an authoritative body of scientists has undertaken a systematic review of scientific evidence and categorized the substances as having an association with a specific health or environmental hazard. Sometimes the lists will also categorize the strength of scientific evidence and certainty of the hazard (e.g., differentiating whether a substance is a “known” or “suspected” carcinogen).
Many organizations rely on these same authoritative lists to evaluate chemical hazards when looking for safer chemicals, materials and products, including companies, institutional purchasers, and governments. ChemHAT now makes this information available for workers.