NICKEFFECT aims to develop novel ferromagnetic Ni-based coating materials to replace the scarce and costly Platinum and ensure high efficiency in key applications.

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Assessing the chemical risk in R&D projects: the key towards safer materials and products

Assessing the chemical risk in R&D projects: the key towards safer materials and products

Chemicals are ubiquitous in the workplace (glues, resins, processing fluids, cleaning and bleaching agents, degreasers, paints…). They are used intentionally as substances or, more frequently, as preparations (mixtures). They may also be emitted from a process (combustion, degradation…). Whether visible or invisible, liquid, powdery or gaseous, they can have chronic or acute effects on human health, properties, and the environment. Learning how to detect hazardous chemicals even at the early stage of R&D development is crucial to prevent their harmful effects. 


To begin with, and for a better understanding, it’s important to know a few key definitions.


Substance is a chemical element and its compounds in the natural state or obtained by any manufacturing process, including any additive necessary to preserve its stability and any impurity deriving from the process used, but excluding any solvent, which may be separated without affecting the stability of the substance or modifying its composition. 

Preparation is a mixture or solution composed of two or more substances.

Product is either a substance or a preparation.

Hazard is the intrinsic property of an agent/situation, likely to have a harmful effect.

Exposure is the act of placing a person or an object in such a way as to expose it to the effects of certain agents or phenomena.

Risk is the probability that the harm potential will be realized under the conditions of use and/or exposure.


The prevention of harmful chemicals is planned in five main steps:

  1. Assessing the risks;
  2. Eliminating risk, when possible;
  3. Replacing the dangerous with the less dangerous (chemicals or processes);
  4. Reducing the risks by giving priority to collective over individual measures;
  5. Training and informing employees.


In NICKEFFECT, chemical risk assessments will be carried out throughout the project life cycle, from the laboratory-scale production to the material testing and validation, including production ramp-up, demonstrators and valorisation activities. The products involved in each process are identified and listed in an inventory. Their associated hazards are assessed, and the use of each hazardous product is then analysed to evaluate the exposure conditions. Finally, the risk is prioritized according to the impact on health, on the environment and the risk of fire and explosion for each action of each process. Once the assessments have been carried out and priorities established, recommendations are made to mitigate the risks, in combination with the findings and recommendations from life-cycle analysis and life-cycle costing.