Establishment of a harmonized hazard classification of chemicals to facilitate management of carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxicants (CMR) in the workplace.
In developing CMR chemicals inventory of a Malaysia-based multi-national company, chemical databases of three governmental agencies—EU CLP, Japan NITE and Germany GESTIS, and two non-governmental agencies, IARC and CONCAWE—were referred to. These agencies classified chemicals based on the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), and the IARC classification was read-across to the GHS classification. The Malaysian Industry Code of Practice (ICoP) on Chemicals Classification and Hazard Communications was also referred to. Applying these comprehensive databases, CMR chemicals were screened out of the chemical registries of twenty operations. If classification variation occurred among the above agencies, the most stringent classification was adopted.
Based on chemicals CAS number, a total of 250 chemicals used in twenty operations were identified as C, M and/or R. Of these, 19.6% were classified as carcinogens (C), 4% were mutagens (M) and 26.4% were reproductive toxicants (R). The other 50% of the 250 chemicals were classified as chemicals that can cause multiple-toxicities: 18.8% are carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxic (CMR) chemicals; 16.4% are carcinogens and reprotoxic (CR) chemicals; 8.4% are carcinogens and mutagens (CM); and 6.4% are mutagens and reprotoxic (MR). An identification process flow based on the list and the respective SDS was established to assist effective chemical health risk assessment in the workplace. This method is a minimal cost approach in identifying and prioritizing hazardous chemicals for further exposure assessment or safer alternatives at the workplace.
The method is not restricted to chemical health hazard identification. Its application can be extended to identification of physico-chemical and environmental hazards. Importantly, this cost-effective approach can be utilized by multi-national companies, as well as small and medium size enterprise with limited toxicological expertise and funding.