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What is risk?

Risk is the likelihood and severity of adverse effects occurring. Put another way, it is the possibility of loss or injury, whether it relates to people or the environment. Risk consists of two main elements: hazard and exposure. Risk characterization evaluates the hazard and exposure characteristics and information of a chemical.

Our risk characterization process is to categorize our products or product categories regarding their exposure and hazard potential and to prioritize products for risk management activities. Characterizing the risks of our products is a shared process at Arkema. We solicit input from manufacturing, marketing, sales, technical, research and development, and HES personnel.

We strongly support the concept of product risk management to provide our customers with products that can be managed, transported, used, and disposed of safely.

Hazard assessment and characterization

In order to provide information on the health, environmental, and safety (HES) aspects of our products, we:

  • Collect data and other information related to a chemical's hazard
  • Perform an initial hazard characterization
  • Identify any additional information to be developed in order to conduct an evaluation of the product
  • Complete a detailed hazard characterization

At Arkema, we use a structured, consistent system for gathering the health and environmental data needed to characterize the potential risks of the chemical substances used, processed, manufactured, stored, or distributed by our businesses. Our information and data management systems assist each of our businesses in prioritizing products and materials for risk management decisions.

Hazard assessment is the initial element of the risk characterization process. The goal of our hazard assessment is to provide an up-to-date representation of the existing information on relevant health effects data, chemical and physical properties, as well as any potential environmental toxicity effects.

A safety data sheet (SDS) is a written compilation of safety and hazard information concerning a hazardous chemical that is prepared in accordance with the US OSHA hazard communication standard, 29 CFR §1910.1200(g). A label is written, printed, or graphic material displayed on or affixed to containers of hazardous chemicals. Each Arkema business unit that manufactures or distributes any chemical substance prepares an SDS and label text for the product and is responsible for updating the SDS and label in accordance with existing guidelines and regulatory requirements. Each Arkema facility maintains a repository of SDSs for materials at its site, and an SDS is provided to customers, distributors, medical personnel, and others in accordance with the OSHA standard and our company policy.

Arkema develops a hazard ranking for its commercial products. To do this, we evaluate a variety of parameters that help define a product's hazard, including its acute and chronic health effects, effects and fate of the product in the environment, and chemical reactivity. Materials with the highest overall scores are expected to pose the highest hazard potential. Based on the ranking, a material can be classified as having high, moderate, or low hazard potential.


Exposure information and assessment

Exposure assessment is the next element of the risk characterization process. The goal of the exposure evaluation is to assess information on exposures to a product based on its intended applications and the magnitude of the exposure.

Each Arkema business develops and collects the data needed for the exposure assessment component of risk characterization, including:

  • Manufacturing process details
  • Uses of the product (industrial, consumer, commercial)
  • Typical volumes transported
  • Nearness to sensitive human populations or environments

The exposure assessment addresses the potential for contact during normal conditions in manufacturing and processing (including upsets), reasonably foreseeable use and misuse in the marketplace, as well as exposure to the product during transport, use, or disposal.


Risk assessment, characterization, and management

Using the results of the hazard assessment and the exposure assessment, a product risk characterization document is developed. The risk characterization process categorizes product or product groups with regard to their exposure and hazard potential, identifying a priority for risk management activities.

The results of the exposure and hazard assessments are integrated to determine a risk assessment or risk category. Since risk depends on both hazard and exposure, it follows that materials with both high hazard and high exposure present the most potential risk and are priority candidates for risk management activities. The risk characterization document provides an overview of the product, its uses, its potential hazards, and how the risk is managed via engineering controls, use of personal protective equipment, specific handling practices, limitations on product applications, or other measures.

We define product risk management as the actions taken to evaluate and address risk, including any method to lessen the impact or control the adverse effects on health and the environment posed by the known hazards and the reasonably anticipated exposures to chemicals throughout a product's life cycle.

Our customers, distributors, and other downstream users currently receive product hazard, risk data, and training materials directly from the businesses via SDSs, product labels, technical datasheets, product brochures, and product-specific training documents. Additionally, these organizations typically have trained environmental, health, and safety personnel dedicated to the review of hazard and risk information necessary for worker and environmental protection. Similarly, governmental authorities and emergency response personnel may receive access to detailed product composition, hazard data, and toxicological reviews of our materials.

Disclaimer - The product risk characterization document is not intended to replace or supersede the information contained in a product's Safety Data Sheet (SDS), product label, or product handling and use instructions.

Product stewardship summaries

View our product stewardship summaries for additional information.

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