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Safer Choice

Tool Category Website Owner/Sponsor Entity Type Product Categories
Standards, Certifications & Labels


US Environmental Protection Agency


Automotive; Chemicals & Plastics; Cleaning & Janitorial Products; Health & Beauty, Cosmetics, Pharmacy; Lawn & Garden

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safer Choice Program, formerly known as Design for Environment (DfE), helps consumers and buyers identify products—primarily cleaning products—with safer chemical ingredients. The Safer Choice label is applied to consumer and professional products with ingredients that pose the least concern among chemicals in their class and that meet whole-product, green chemistry-based criteria. The Safer Choice website contains a database for retailers and purchasers to enable them to quickly find labeled products. 

What Is Evaluated?

Focus Impacts
  • Chemicals
  • Materials
  • Products
  • Companies
    • Ecological health
    • Human health
    • Social responsibility
    • Materials efficiency
    • Energy use


The Safer Choice Program evaluates products based on standards for safer chemicals within particular functional classes (such as surfactant, colorant, solvent). The standards, which are developed with stakeholder input, consider the human health, ecological toxicity, and environmental fate of chemicals in the class, and establish thresholds that must be met for an ingredient to be allowed in a Safer Choice product. Safer Choice goes beyond compliance by applying the principles of green chemistry to search for the safest known materials.
To achieve the Safer Choice label, a manufacturer must use the safest ingredients from each functional group and meet other product-level requirements, such as pH and performance. Product manufacturers submit a list of all product ingredients to a qualified third-party verifier. The verifier develops and reviews a hazard profile for each ingredient. Manufacturers are provided with an assessment of their ingredients and whether they meet Safer Choice criteria. In addition, companies must sign a partnership agreement with EPA that formalizes their commitment to making safer products and improving them over time.
Since limited data is available for many chemicals in commerce, Safer Choice prioritizes use of empirical data, using screening-level tools, expert judgment, and structure-activity relationship analysis when such data are not available. 


Companies seeking certification must report all ingredients including percentage of each substance and its function in the product, known residuals present at greater than .01% by weight, and the intended function of the product. Additional requirements include:

  • CAS number, functional name, trade designation and supplier information for each chemical in the formulation
  • MSDS's for the product and each ingredient
  • pH of the finished product, if applicable
  • effective use concentrations
  • expected yearly production volume
  • product performance data
  • environmental considerations in packaging
  • list of toxicological studies relevant to the chemicals and impurities present in the product, when available
  • any other available supplemental product or ingredient EHS information

When a manufacturer becomes a Safer Choice partner, they sign a partnership agreement that is valid for three years. The partnership requires an annual desk audit by a third-party verifier, as well as an on-site audit once every three years.


There is no fee for the Safer Choice label, but a fee must be paid to the third-party verifier, and varies by the organization.

Examples of Retailers That Use It

Walmart, Amway, Home Depot, Staples

For More Information


Contacts for specific topics here: http://www.epa.gov/saferchoice/staff-directory-safer-choice-and-design-environment

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