We review the safety of our products from research to production, all the way to our customers’ use of the products. We work continually to ensure that our products pose no risk to people or the environment when they are used responsibly and in the manner intended.
- Global directives with uniformly high standards for product stewardship
We provide extensive information on our chemical sales products to our customers with safety data sheets in more than 30 languages. This is achieved with the help of a global database in which we maintain and evaluate continuously updated environmental, health and safety data for our substances and products. Our global emergency hotline network provides information around the clock.
We offer our customers training in the safe use of our products and keep them informed early on of any changes in regulations. For example, we were one of the first companies to offer product-specific information and solutions to pharmaceutical manufacturers on the topic of metallic contaminants, as well as web-based consultation to customers in the pharmaceutical industry and authorities. In the Crop Protection division, we provide special safety training to farmers. We expanded our stewardship program for banana farmers to Latin America, China and the Philippines, where on-site BASF experts show how crop protection products can be used and stored in an effective and safe manner for people and the environment.
With an eye on consumer protection criteria, we also work continuously with our customers on the optimization of our products. Furthermore, we use our Eco-Efficiency Analysis to advise our customers on the evaluation of product risks and support them in improving the carbon footprint of their products.
With our global risk assessment goal, we are supporting the implementation of initiatives such as the Global Product Strategy (GPS) of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). GPS is establishing worldwide standards and best practices to improve the safe management of chemical substances.
In addition, we are also involved in workshops and training seminars in developing countries and emerging markets. In 2015, for example, we conducted training sessions for chemical industry representatives on GPS in China and Thailand. In order to facilitate public access to information, we are participating in the setup of an ICCA online portal that provides more than 4,600 GPS safety summaries.
By 2020, we will conduct risk assessments for all substances and mixtures BASF sells worldwide in quantities of more than one metric ton per year. We already reached 67.8% of this goal in 2015 (2014: 61.4%). The risk associated with using a substance is determined by the combination of its hazardous properties and its potential exposure to people and the environment.
Risk assessment of products that we sell in quantities of more than one metric ton per year
REACH and other legal requirements
- Third registration phase of REACH in progress
We are working continuously on registering substances produced in annual volumes between one and one hundred metric tons for the third phase of the E.U. chemicals regulation, REACH. We have already registered over 200 substances to this end. The registration phase should be completed by May of 2018. At the same time, we also constantly update the existing registration dossiers and support the relevant E.U. member state authorities in evaluating an increasing number of substances. When it comes to REACH, we maintain close contact with our customers and suppliers.
Another contribution BASF makes to international chemical safety is through our support of the United Nations’ initiative to implement a Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. This has already been implemented in nearly every country in the world. It was also made mandatory in the United States in the middle of 2015, which was the reason we reclassified 36,000 products there.
Environmental and toxicological testing
- Use of alternative and complementary methods for animal studies
Before launching products on the market, we subject them to a variety of environmental and toxicological testing. We apply state-of-the-art knowledge in the research and development of our products. We only conduct animal studies when they are required by law. In some cases, animal studies are stipulated by REACH and other national legislation outside the European Union in order to obtain more information on the properties and effects of chemical products.
We adhere to the specifications laid down by the German Animal Welfare Act as well as the requirements of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care – the highest standard for laboratory animals in the world. We are continually developing and optimizing alternative and complementary methods, and we put these into practice wherever it is possible and approved by the authorities. BASF spent €2.7 million for this purpose in 2015. We use alternative and complementary methods in more than a third of our tests. Currently, 30 alternative methods are being used in our labs and another 12 are in the development stage. One focus area of our research in 2015 and subsequent years is the development of alternative methods for testing the potential of substances that negatively affect organisms’ growth and development.
In 2015, our Experimental Toxicology and Ecotoxicology department received, together with partners, a grant to conduct one of the largest European collaborative projects for alternative methods. The project aims to develop alternative methods to the point that chemical risk assessments can be efficiently conducted with the least amount of animal testing possible.
Management of new technologies
- Continual safety research on nano- and biotechnology
Technologies such as nanotechnology or biotechnology offer solutions for key societal challenges – for example, in the areas of climate protection or health and nutrition.
We developed a “Nanotechnology Code of Conduct” that stipulates the safe handling of nanomaterials. We are constantly expanding our knowledge of nanomaterial safety. Over the past years, we have conducted more than 230 toxicological and ecotoxicological studies and participated in over 30 different projects related to the safety of nanomaterials. We published the results in 71 scientific articles. One important finding is that toxicity is determined not by the size of the particles but by the intrinsic properties of the substance.
In 2015, we published a framework for the specific testing of nanomaterials together with the European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC). We are working with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the OECD and national authorities on its further development. In an E.U. project, we are collaborating with partners from science, industry and the authorities to develop an approach for the analytical identification of nanomaterials.
In the use of biotechnology, we follow the code of conduct of EuropaBio, the European association for biotechnology industries. We constantly improve our product safety activities in the field of biotechnology in order to effectively minimize potential risks and ensure that all standards and national laws are met. Our internal risk management is based on the protection of people, animals and the environment. To monitor the risks of working with biotechnology, we implemented a system that ensures compliance with standards and transparent processes at BASF.