Product Safety

Victoria Schoenlaub

7 min Read Time | August 10th 2021

Key Takeaways


Products can present important safety hazards. The hazard depends on the product, how much of it there is, and who it affects.


The product’s use can lead to health issues, such as illnesses, diseases, infections, or others. Therefore, it is important to assess this impact’s depth, breadth, and persistence.


If the product harms human health and biodiversity, it is essential to focus on one topic only

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What are they?

A product is an object or system made available for consumer use.” Products vary from all ranges: food ingested, products absorbed by our bodies after application on the skin, technological devices on our persons or in our homes, etc. All can present important safety hazards. Products used and/or consumed are linked to almost half of all emergency department visits each year.

This research-based article offers more information on the topic of harmful products.

The Guardian’s article “Explained: the toxic threat in everyday products, from toys to plastic” provides a specific analysis of the chemicals found in customer products.


SDG Choice

Impact assessment

In your analysis, start by describing the product(s): the what, how much and who, following the IMP framework.

Then describe the impact by linking studies on this product and its general impact, making a comparison with competitors and industry average, when relevant. You must mention the direct impact of the product and how significant it is. You can use studies as proxies. Learn more in the article Step 5: Assess scale and value.

A specific issue, yet a relevant one, is treating a single angle. For example, household products may be toxic to human health and biodiversity. In this scenario, it is essential to stick to one specific angle on this topic. To learn more about granularity, check out this article.

Biodiversity can also be harmed from products in various ways. This links to different SDGs, such as pesticide and fertiliser runoffs leading to aquatic pollution, and pollution from chemicals and other hazardous waste.

In your analysis, make sure to describe the scale of the impact by taking into account:

1/ The breadth of the impact

  • Is the impact local, national, or global?

  • How many people are concerned? Thousands? Millions? Billions?

As a rule of thumb, if it affects at least 1 million people, it is considered significant. Although, please bear in mind that this is not always the case, as, at times, it could be considered unfair to expect an impact to touch that many lives. Thus, this is flexible.

2/ The depth of the impact

  • Is the life of people concerned deeply affected, or does the issue just marginally impact them?

  • Are the changes brought by the issue profoundly changing society or the planet?

3/ The persistence of the impact

  • How long would the impact described last for? Months? Years? Decades?

  • How reversible is the impact described in the impact analysis? Can it be easily stopped/extended?


This topic differs from the topic Selling Practices & Labelling which is about pushing people to consume (too much) of a potentially harmful/addictive product.


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