Data Sources for Chemical Uses in Products and ProcessesThis is a featured page

Ingredients in Products or Product Categories

Chemicals of high concern and their alternatives may be found in a variety of applications. Information about chemical use in specific applications can be gleaned from a variety of sources.

US Federal:

Some information on chemicals found in products can be found on US Government websites. The following are US government sources of some information. The information available in some of these resources is often limited and out-of-date and care should be taken with their use. Specific concerns which should be considered prior to their use will be identified in the description of each source.

The US EPA provides data on chemicals in products as part of their Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) regulatory requirements. Due to claims of confidential business information, the database only contains information on those products whose contents are not restricted which limits the completeness of the information in this database.

The US National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institute of Health, maintains several databases with information of interest to individuals conducting safer chemical alternative assessments. For the purposes of products, two sources in particular contain information

  • The Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) provides information on the major uses of specific chemicals among a vast array of other information of interest. No information is provided on chemicals in specific products, only major uses of specific chemicals stored in the data bank. Data on major uses is taken from public sources and may not be current or detailed enough to meet individual needs.
  • The Household Products Database (HPD) provides information on chemicals found in over 8,000 chemical brands. The information contained in the HPD is obtained from Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDSs) which are required to communicate to workers risks associated with chemicals used during the manufacture of or in products. MSDSs however are limited as they generally include only information on chemicals which potentially pose a hazard and are not a true indication of all of the chemicals used in a product. Chemicals are also listed in general ranges which can vary considerably based upon the product formulation. Toxicity information is included for those chemicals listed although the data is often incomplete and does not reflect a full history of the risks posed by the chemicals.As the content information found in MSDSs is often dated, inaccurate and without peer-review, care should be taken when using this source.

US State:

In 1989, the State of Massachusetts passed a law, the Toxics Use Reduction Act to encourage reduction in the amount of toxics used in products with the state. As part of this legislation, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) was created to provide support to business to reduce toxics use. TURI provides information about toxics used in products collected during its activities in the Toxics Use Reduction data. The information can be viewed in various ways including 16 chemicals groups but is limited to the information collected.


Non-Governmental Organizations:

  • maintains a limited database on toxic chemicals in specific toys ( Parents may access the information and determine which toys contain the lowest levels of screened toxics. The data however is limited and has not undergone extensive technical review.
  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a database, Skin Deep, which lists chemicals found in personal care products. The contents of the database are based upon input provided by manufacturers of cosmetic products who have volunteered the information and, to a lesser extent, from product labels. EWG has developed a method to rate the safety of cosmetic products based upon this information. The chemical data has not been verified through analysis and care should be taken in its use.


  • CleanGredients, which also provides information for formulators on general product and regulatory information, physical-chemical properties and human and environmental health data.


With the increasing development of electronic message, companies have been formed which provide information on chemical content in products.
  • One example is Good Guide which was formed to evaluate products and to provide recommendations to assist in the purchasing of safer, healthier and greener products.

Chemicals Used in Occupational Settings/Processes

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Response and Restoration has created a website for first responders to get general information on chemicals used in various products and processes. The "My Chemicals" portion of the site provides good information on the various ways that hazardous chemicals may be used in production processes. For instance, halogenated organic compounds as a reactive group in a chemical are described here.
  • NIOSH Blue Book: Guide on Occupational Diseases:
  • California Pesticide Use Reporting - can search using the Pesticide Action Network website:
  • Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety:

Latest page update: made by PamEliason , Sep 22 2011, 10:58 AM EDT (about this update About This Update PamEliason Edited by PamEliason

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