Daily Archives: February 25, 2014

Assessing Alternatives To Toxic Chemicals

Source: Chemical & Engineering News, December 16, 2013
Author: Cheryl Hogue

Eliminating a toxic substance from a product’s ingredients seems like a straightforward way to improve product safety. But when a toxic chemical gets removed from a product, some other substance — or substances — goes in as a replacement to carry out that ingredient’s function, such as softening plastic or helping remove grease. Such a switch is intended to resolve the problem. But in some cases this situation can lead to what is being called “regrettable substitution.”

For example, brake cleaner, which auto mechanics use, once contained chlorinated solvents, primarily methylene chloride. But in the 1990s, pollution control regulations pushed manufacturers of the cleaner to rid their products of chlorinated solvents. In place of these compounds, brake cleaner makers substituted n-hexane, which performs well in their products.

By the late 1990s, physicians began to report that auto mechanics using brake cleaner were suffering nerve damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Since the 1960s, n-hexane has been known to be neurotoxic. Product makers had swapped chemicals with a significant pollution downside for a substance that posed a serious health risk to workers.

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TURI’s Note: The TURA Administrative Council has voted to designate methylene chloride as a Higher Hazard Substance.  See TURI’s Policy Analysis for Methylene Chloride.

EPA Releases Data on 1,800 Chemicals

Source: Environmental Leader, December 18, 2013

The EPA announced Tuesday it has released screening data on 1,800 chemicals found in industrial and consumer products, food additives and drugs.The data, which was gathered through a variety of advanced techniques including robotics and high-throughout screening, is available through the EPA’s new interactive Chemical Safety for Sustainability dashboard. The dashboard and the data is part of an ongoing collaboration, known as Tox21, between the EPA, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences/National Toxicology Program, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the Food and Drug Administration to improve chemical screening, the agency says.

The vision is for the dashboard to evolve into an iCSS web application that will become the portal to access all EPA computational toxicology research data and studies including aggregated public sources of chemical toxicity data, animal toxicity studies and high-quality chemical structures and annotations.

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Access the U.S. EPA’s new interactiveChemical Safety for Sustainability dashboard