ZeroPM Alternative Assessment Database

ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT DATABASE

ZeroPM partners are continuously building a database of alternatives to persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT) substances, and to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The current version available focuses on alternatives to PFAS. The ZeroPM alternative assessment database is currently available as a beta-version. It will be continuously updated as we obtain more information on alternatives to PFAS and other PMT substances.

Basis of the Database

The database has been built by following the functional substitution approach as defined by Tickner et al. (2015) in order to be able to identify all types of alternatives to substances of concern. Therefore, for each use of substances of concern, the database provides its chemical function, end-use function, and function as a service, as defined below.

  • Chemical function: The chemical function is the actual technical function of the substance of concern, generally determined by its physico-chemical properties. In the database, the chemical function was defined following the OECD internationally harmonised functional, product and article use categories (OECD, 2017).
  • End-use function: The end-use function specifies the specific purpose provided by the substance of concern in a product or process. In other words, what does the substance of concern bring to the product or process.
  • Function as service: The service relates to the broad service provided by the substance of concern in a product or process. In other words, what are the services provided by the specific end use of the substance of concern.

Alternatives to PFAS

Because PFAS have multiple uses in products, and often can only be replaced with alternative materials or technologies, it is not feasible to build a substance-by-substance database. Instead, the database has been built around use categories of PFAS.

The Alternatve Assesment Database to PFAS can be downloaded here (last updated October 12th, 2023)

Files related to the database are available for download at our Zenodo community.

Currently the database includes the following use categories of PFAS.

  • Active pharmaceutical ingredients
  • Biocidal product
  • Building and construction products
  • Consumer mixtures
  • Cosmetics
  • Electronics and semiconductors
  • Energy sector
  • Fluorinated gases
  • Food contact materials
  • Lubricant
  • Medical devices
  • Metal products manufacture and metal plating
  • Petroleum and mining
  • Plant protection products
  • Ski wax
  • Transport
  • Textile, upholstery, leather, apparel, and carpets (TULAC)

For each use category, the database provides:

  • A list of sub-use(s) and application(s) of PFAS;
  • The chemical function(s), end-use function(s), and service(s) provided by PFAS for all applications identified;
  • A non-exhaustive list of substances used for each application, along with their CAS number and INCHI key if available;
  • A non-exhaustive list of potential alternatives to PFAS for each application, along with their CAS number (if available), the type of alternative, and some basic information on the suitability of the alternative of the specific application, and whether it is already available/in use on the market. At the moment, the main source of information to identify alternatives was the proposal for restriction of all uses of PFAS under the REACH Regulation and the ChemSec Marketplace (ChemSec, 2023). We aim to deepen the search for alternatives for specific use cases of PFAS in the future.

The figure below illustrates the general structure of the database by taking the examples of fluorinated gases and food contact materials uses.

Figure: General structure of the ZeroPM alternatives database for PFAS – Examples of fluorinated gases and food contact material

Do you have PFAS in your Business?

Are you looking to find information if you have PFAS in your business, product or process, please also see the Online PFAS guide for companies by ChemSec.

Disclaimer

We do not state that all alternatives listed in the database are technically feasible for all applications, but we hope to provide a convenient tool for users to search and sort information on uses of PMT and PFAS, and their potential alternatives to guide companies in their substitution activities. Essentially, it will serve as a starting point for deeper analysis, including by members of ZeroPM. We believe it is the responsibility of users of the database to further assess whether the alternatives can be suitable for their particular products or processes.

Furthermore, we do not provide an in-depth hazard characterisation of the alternatives at the moment, so we cannot confirm that the alternatives listed in the database are safer than PFAS. However, in future iterations it will be linked with the ZeroPM database, which will contain information about the persistence and mobility of alternatives. There will nevertheless be clear disclaimers that further assessment on the potential alternatives should be done by the user of the database to avoid potential regrettable substitution.

References
ChemSec Marketplace (2023). Find alternatives. https://marketplace.chemsec.org/Alternatives/ (Last accessed: 2023.07.03)
ECHA (2023), Restriction proposal on the manufacture, placing on the market and use of PFAS. https://echa.europa.eu/fr/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18663449b. Last accessed: 2023.09.27
OECD (2017). Internationally harmonised functional, product and article use categories. OECD Environment, Health and Safety Publication – Series on Testing & Assessment, No. 262; Paris, 2017.
Tickner, J. A., Schifano, J. N., Blake, A., Rudisill, C., & Mulvihill, M. J. (2015). Advancing safer alternatives through functional substitution. Environmental science & technology, 49(2), 742-749.