We describe progress in understanding the effect of simulated chemical-mechanical planarization (CMP) slurry chemistry on the evolution of defects and formation of damage that occurs during CMP processing. Specifically, we demonstrate the significant effect of aqueous solution chemistry on accelerating crack growth in porous methylsilsesquioxane (MSSQ) films. In addition, we show that the same aqueous solutions can diffuse rapidly into the highly hydrophobic nanoporous MSSQ films containing interconnected porosity. Such diffusion has deleterious effects on both dielectric properties and the acceleration of defect growth rates. Crack propagation rates were measured in several CMP solutions, and the resulting crack growth behavior was used to qualitatively predict the extent of damage during CMP. These predictions are compared with damage formed during actual CMP processes in identical chemistries. We discuss the effects of both the high and low crack growth rate regimes, including the presence of a crack growth threshold, on the predicted CMP damage. Finally, implications for improved CMP processing were considered.