Skip to content

A “chemical family” can be defined as a group of elements that have certain similar properties and can form compounds with some similar properties.

However, there can be significant differences among the many compounds that are part of a chemical “family.” Chemicals that seem similar can have vastly different structures, uses and health and environment profiles, and each chemical in a family has its own distinct characteristics. For example, diamonds, charcoal and graphite are all forms of carbon, but have highly different properties.

Grouping chemical substances into a category or class is sometimes done by regulators to conduct initial screening, streamline testing, or support hazard or risk assessment, but is not meant to be used to define an entire group of chemicals.

The following are examples of several chemical families that include chemicals with different structures, uses and safety profiles within them:

The following video, infographic and one-pagers developed by the American Chemistry Council demonstrate how chemicals that may seem very similar at first glance actually have very different structures, uses and safety profiles.

Video: Chemical Families

Why Chemical Families are Like Berries

image of why chemical families are like berries

Misconceptions about Chemical Families: Let’s Break it Down

image of misconceptions about chemical families document

The Myth vs. the Truth about Banning Chemical Families

image of Myth vs truth about banning chemical families document

Back to Top

For more chemical safety facts, follow us on social media.

© 2005 – 2023 American Chemistry Council, Inc. The ACC mark, Responsible Care®, the hands logo mark, CHEMTREC®, TRANSCAER®, and are registered service marks of the American Chemistry Council, Inc.