We review the safety of our products from research to production and ﬁnally 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 ensure uniformly high standards for product stewardship worldwide and our voluntary initiatives go beyond legal requirements. We monitor the implementation of our guidelines with regular audits.
We provide extensive information on our chemical sales products to our customers and the public 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, a new E.U. directive requires customers to mark their products with additional warnings for allergy sufferers starting in 2015. We assist them by providing comprehensive information so that our customers can fulfill these additional obligations. 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 goals for risk assessment, 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 2014, for example, we conducted training sessions for chemical industry representatives on GPS in China, Ghana, India, Russia 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 4,100 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 61.4% of this goal in 2014 (2013: 56%). 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 begun
After completing the second registration phase in 2013, we are now working continually on registering substances produced in volumes between one and one hundred metric tons per year for the third registration deadline of the E.U. chemicals regulation, REACH. We expect to be done by 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.
Ecological 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 ecological 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 put these into practice whenever possible and accepted by the authorities. BASF spent €2.8 million for this purpose in 2014. We use alternative and complementary methods in more than a third of our tests. Currently, 27 alternative methods are being used in our labs and another 16 are in the development stage. One focus area of our research in 2014 and subsequent years is the development of alternative methods for testing the potential of substances that negatively affect organisms’ growth and development.
Furthermore, our “Experimental Toxicology and Ecotoxicology” department became a member of the European Union Network of Laboratories for the Validation of Alternative Methods (EU-NETVAL) in 2014.
Management of new technologies
- Continual safety research on nano- and biotechnology
New 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 180 toxicological and ecotoxicological studies and participated in around 30 different projects related to the safety of nanomaterials. We published the results in 66 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.
Since 2014, we have been developing a strategy for the targeted study and classification of nanomaterials within the framework of the European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC). Based on the results of our investigations into nanomaterial safety, we have proposed a tiered approach for testing and evaluating nanomaterials for REACH. We are working with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the OECD and national authorities on its further development.
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. We implemented a scorecard system to monitor the risks of working with biotechnology. It ensures compliance with standards and transparent processes at BASF.