Fail fast Screening

Photo credit: Aaron Davis

Photo credit: Aaron Davis

In order to move toward a safe and healthy economy, it is important to identify and verify inherently safer products early in the development stage instead of waiting until the products are on the market.  In an ideal world, comprehensive chemical hazard data would already be available for every chemical ingredient in a product.  However, entrepreneurs and developers do not have unlimited funds or time to gather that level of information.  Instead, NGC supports entrepreneurs and product designers in a customized “fail fast” tiered approach to screening ingredients and testing products. 

We call this approach “fail fast” because products that do not pass the initial tests should go “back to the drawing board”.  It is better to fail quickly and redesign for long-term success, than it is to bring a product to market and hope it isn’t toxic.  By rapidly and inexpensively probing hazard at an early stage, this approach allows you to avoid wasting your investments—both time and capital—on extensive development of hazardous products.  Bringing hazardous products to market can result in fines, litigation, and worst of all, harm to both humans and the environment.

Fail fast screening is a practical approach that puts product designers on the path to better products through the application of the Design Principles of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering. It provides product designers and manufacturers with more confidence that they are on the right path.  Please contact us if you are interested in working with Northwest Green Chemistry to help optimize your product via customized fail-fast chemical hazard screening and product testing.

Case Study:  Duwamish River ship operators, Andries Breedt, and Marine Fenders

Learn more about NGC’s approach in this case study about marine fenders.  When energy from waves pushes boats up against docks, jetties, and other vessels, ship and marina owners install fenders to vessel hulls and docks to absorb the energy and prevent damage. Used tires are a popular choice for fenders, but are they the best choice?  Hazardous chemicals, including zinc and organic hydrocarbons, can leach from used tires into the marina, and tire rubber degrades quickly in marine conditions. 

Duwamish River ship operators approached entrepreneur Andries Breedt to design a less toxic and more functional marine fender, and Breedt came to NGC to review the product for toxicity concerns. NGC first obtained full disclosure of all product ingredients and performed initial chemical hazard screening. NGC then proposed a whole product fail-fast approach to testing using juvenile salmon.  The testing was performed by Dr. John Stark’s lab at the Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center.  While this testing doesn’t address every potential concern, this approach provides clear justification for continuing with product development before large capital investments have been made.