News Brief

A Chemical Database and Discussion Group in One

The Chemical Hazard Data Commons is a resource on toxic chemicals for geeks and newbies alike.

The Chemical Hazard Data Commons from the Healthy Building Network includes chemical profiles and more.

Search results return profiles like this one for a flame retardant. A rollover feature helps newer users interpret the acronyms.

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Curious about the toxic substances in building products? See a chemical on a Health Product Declaration that you’d like to know more about? You might want to check out the Chemical Hazard Data Commons, a free online resource from the Healthy Building Network (HBN). HBN is a nonprofit focused on reducing the use of toxic chemicals in building products; the group also created Pharos, a set of online tools designed to aid building product research.

The Chemical Hazard Data Commons is “a pumped-up version of the Pharos Chemical and Material Library,” explained Tom Lent, policy director at HBN. That database of more than 60,000 substances and their toxicity data was previously available only through a paid subscription. (Free registration is required to use the Data Commons.)

Users can search for chemicals by name—the database includes “thousands of synonyms” for substances, according to Lent—or by Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number. Search results reveal how toxic the chemical is according to the GreenScreen, a method of identifying health and environmental hazards associated with a particular substance. Rollover text helps users interpret all the abbreviations and codes associated with GreenScreen.

Still confused about what your search results mean? Although the Data Commons might appeal primarily to the most knowledgeable product researchers and developers, it is also a way to connect with others who may have more knowledge or other perspectives. “It’s a broad range of people involved in the chemical hazard world,” said Lent, including scientists and manufacturers, and the Data Commons gives building professionals “a direct channel to chat” with them.

According to Lent, eventually the Data Commons and Pharos will merge, but certain features of Pharos will still be available by subscription only.

More on chemical screening and building products

Understanding GreenScreen and List Translator Benchmarks

Health Product Declaration FAQs

Different Tools for Different Jobs: How HPDs Fit In

For more information:

The Chemical Hazard Data Commons

Published July 9, 2018

Melton, P. (2018, July 9). A Chemical Database and Discussion Group in One. Retrieved from

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