Save The Planet: Chemicals You Should Avoid Buying

It is important for Postal Service employees to select and use nonhazardous and environmentally friendly chem­icals or products in their respective facilities or installations. Targeted chemicals are those that the EPA has determined are harmful to the environment and recommends not pur­chasing.

What Can You Do at Your Facility?

Practice environmentally preferable purchasing when possible. Consult the USPS Targeted Chemicals list (shown here) when making purchasing decisions. If the product you need is a “targeted chemical,” look for an alternative. Reduce or eliminate use of the 13 targeted chemicals wherever possible to lower the potential long-term effects of releasing these chemicals into the work­place or environment. If they cannot be eliminated, consult with local safety and environmental specialists to be sure you are complying with applicable federal, state, and local regulations and are aware of the current alternatives to products containing these targeted chemicals.

targated chemicals

USPS Targeted Chemicals

Commonly Found in:

1. 1,1,1-Trichloroethane (Methyl chloroform, methyltrichloromethane, and trichloromethylmethane, and alpha-trichloromethane)

Solvents, Glues, Aerosols, Spot Cleaners

2. 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene

Solvents, Degreasers, Herbicides

3. Benzene


4. Lead

Batteries, Pipes, Roof Materials, Wheel Weights

5. Mercury

Fluorescent Lamps, Thermostats

6. Methylene chloride (dichloromethane)

Solvents, Paint Strippers

7. Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK, 2-butanone)

Paints, Glues, Cleaning Agents

8. Methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK, MIK, hexone)

Paints, Varnishes, Lacquers

9. Naphthalene

Dyes, Insecticides

10. Tetrachloroethylene (tetrachloroethene, perchlorothylene, PCE, PERC)

Degreasers, Dry-cleaning

11. Toluene

Gasoline, Paints, Thinners, Adhesives

12. Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Solvents, Paint Removers, Adhesives

13. Xylenes

Solvents, Cleaning Agents, Gasoline

Environmentally Preferable Products are those that pose a reduced threat to human health and the environ­ment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. Specific examples include low-mercury bulbs, retread tires, recycled antifreeze, re-refined oil, and recycled content paper. Other major cate­gories of environmentally preferred products include those that:

n Do not contain any of the USPS targeted chemicals.

n Contain recycled materials from post-consumer sources.

n Have third-party certification (e.g., Forest Steward­ship Council is a leading international certifying orga­nization for paper derived from sustainably managed forests).

n Are energy efficient (e.g., Energy Star qualified prod­ucts) and/or have minimal packaging.

What Can You Do?

Learn more about environmentally preferred products by visiting the Office of Sustainability website at