What is the difference between EPA’s Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL) and CleanGredients?

EPA’s SCIL and CleanGredients are resources that can be used to help formulators make products that meet EPA’s Safer Choice Criteria - so what are the differences and why is it worthwhile to pay for a CleanGredients subscription?


EPA’s SCIL includes the Chemical Abstract Service Registration Number (CASRN) of a chemical, the common chemical name, the EPA inventory name, functional class and its “geocode” designation. CleanGredients complements SCIL by providing important additional information about ingredient level products: the chemical manufacturer, trade name, any formula-specific information (e.g., chemical use or percent composition), including  trade secret chemicals, or those listed  on the confidential TSCA inventory.

CleanGredients also provides information that is useful to formulators such as volatile organic compound (VOC) content, whether a product has been approved for direct release to open waters (e.g., boat cleaner) or whether a maximum use level has been established for the product.

How do CleanGredients and SCIL compare?

Element CleanGredients Safer Chemical Ingredients List
CASRN Optional X
Common chemical name  Optional X
EPA inventory name  Optional X
Functional class X X
Color-coding system X X
Chemical manufacturer X
Trade name X
Formula-specific information X
Trade secret chemicals X
Direct release acceptability X
Maximum use level X
VOC content X

Because CleanGredients provides a list of specific chemical ingredient formulations that have been pre-approved for use in Safer Choice products, use of CleanGredients-listed ingredients saves a formulator time and money in getting its products approved for the Safer Choice label.  Because SCIL-listed ingredients are not specific to suppliers’ products, third party profilers still have to review these ingredients as formulated by the  supplier, and evaluate potential hazards associated with any proprietary mixtures, impurities, additives, and certain physical properties, which means extra time and expense for formulators.  Ingredients listed in CleanGredients have already been subjected to this level of review, allowing formulators to avoid the time and costs of reviewing these ingredients when the end product is reviewed for compliance with the Safer Choice standard.

Many CAS numbers listed in SCIL may represent chemicals with variable characteristics, and not all instances of these chemicals will meet Safer Choice criteria.  Mixtures of multiple discrete chemicals may also be used in end product formulations.  Impurities, residuals or additives may be present in a product whose active ingredient is SCIL-listed, but which may interfere with Safer Choice approval of the final formulation.  Some examples include:

  • A polymer with residual monomers of potential concern (e.g., formaldehyde, acrylic acid);
  • Naturally mined silicates, carbonates, and other minerals that may contain crystalline silica as a residual;
  • Colorants containing an unacceptable preservative;
  • Ethanol with an unacceptable denaturant (e.g., methanol, t-butanol); and
  • Preservatives, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, or 1,4-dioxane in surfactants.

Avoid an unexpected failure of your product’s third-party review, with resulting time and costs to reformulate the product, by sourcing pre-approved ingredients from the CleanGredients database.