Risk Assessment as a Tool for Effective Product Stewardship

Posted on Behalf of  Caroline Gillie, Allison Killius

The production, transport, use, and disposal of industrial and consumer products may pose risks to human and environmental health. Workers have the potential to be exposed to starting reagents, raw materials, and byproducts/intermediates during manufacture and transport, as well as to chemical agents in finished products. Consumers also may be exposed to chemicals from handling, use, or storing the finished product in commercial or residential settings. At each stage of a product’s life cycle, potential exists for chemical release to the environment – whether through stack emissions at a production facility, spillage loss during transport, evaporative losses during use, or leaching of landfilled waste into soil or groundwater.

Product stewardship is the practice of characterizing and managing human health and environmental impacts throughout a product’s life cycle. Effective product stewardship is multidisciplinary and draws insights from numerous scientific and technical disciplines, including toxicology, exposure science, materials science, and legal and regulatory affairs. Each of these fields provides a business with crucial information to identify and manage potential health and environmental risks.

Risk assessment can help companies understand the intrinsic hazards of chemicals and quantify the likelihood (risk) that exposures may damage human health and the environment. Any industry in which chemical exposure may occur can benefit from the risk assessment process, including pharmaceuticals, consumer products, industrial products and chemicals, and energy. Furthermore, this framework may be applied at any of these points along the supply chain: research and development; manufacturing, transportation; use; reuse; and disposal. By incorporating risk assessment into product stewardship, companies are better able to maintain regulatory compliance, can readily identify and screen potential hazards, and can reduce the exposure potentials driving these risks.

By understanding the hazards and potential risks throughout its product’s life cycle, a company is well-positioned to maintain regulatory compliance, identify problematic chemistries or exposure scenarios that may present risks in the supply chain, and effectively manage and mitigate risks over the product’s life cycle.

 Risk assessment-based product stewardship also demonstrates to consumers that a business is mindful of its potential impact on human health and the environment. Virtually every company in every industry can benefit from building a product stewardship program based on risk assessment. By utilizing a scientifically-robust methodology, the risks of negative impacts of a product throughout the entire life cycle can be minimized, leaving companies better prepared for the future, and more likely to succeed long-term.

 

Cardno ChemRisk scientists have assisted companies in understanding potential product exposures and risks, as well as applying risk assessment to address product stewardship. To learn more about this topic, please email Milan Ceppi (milan.ceppi@fararecovery.com) to join us and FARA Recovery in an upcoming webinar. For more information regarding Cardno ChemRisk’s risk assessment and product stewardship capabilities, please contact Ms. Caroline Gillie, Ms. Allison Killius, or Ms. Gwen Parker.