Last week, this question landed in my inbox: “What is the functional difference among chemical safety, chemical security, chemical health and chemical hygiene?” I assume that the person who e-mailed me is not the only one wondering about all those terms. Here are the definitions I put together with input from Larry Gibbs of Stanford University, Kimberly Jeskie of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Neal Langerman of Advanced Chemical Safety:
Chemical safety is the application of the best practices for handling chemicals and chemistry processes to minimize risk, whether to a person, facility, or community. It involves understanding the physical, chemical, and toxicological hazards of chemicals.
Chemical health is a subset of chemical safety that focuses on toxicology and health risks.
Chemical hygiene is essentially the same as chemical safety. It is the collection of best practices used to minimize chemical exposure, whether to workers or the community. It is one part of occupational or industrial hygiene, which broadly focuses on controlling biological, chemical, physical, ergonomic, and psychosocial stressors to ensure the well-being of workers and the community.
Chemical security involves preventing illegal or antisocial use of chemicals, often by restricting access.