EPA warns toxic ‘forever chemicals’ more dangerous than once thought
Source: Washington Post
Author: Dino Grandoni

The Environmental Protection Agency warned Wednesday that a group of human-made chemicals found in the drinking water, cosmetics and food packaging used by millions of Americans poses a greater danger to human health than regulators previously thought.

The new health advisories for a ubiquitous class of compounds known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, underscore the risk facing dozens of communities across the country. Linked to infertility, thyroid problems and several types of cancer, these “forever chemicals” can persist in the environment for years without breaking down.

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The European Commission updates the definition of nanomaterial

The European Commission has updated, as of 10 June 2022, the Recommendation 2011/696/EU on the definition of nanomaterial, that supports a coherent EU regulatory framework for nanomaterials:

'Nanomaterial' means a natural, incidental or manufactured material consisting of solid particles that are present, either on their own or as identifiable constituent particles in aggregates or agglomerates, and where 50 % or more of these particles in the number-based size distribution fulfil at least one of the following conditions:

(a) one or more external dimensions of the particle are in the size range 1 nm to 100 nm;

(b) the particle has an elongated shape, such as a rod, fibre or tube, where two external dimensions are smaller than 1 nm and the other dimension is larger than 100 nm;

(c) the particle has a plate-like shape, where one external dimension is smaller than 1 nm and the other dimensions are larger than 100 nm.

ECHA adds carcinogen NMA to candidate list 
Source: Chemical Watch

ECHA has added n-(hydroxymethyl)acrylamide (NMA) to the REACH candidate list because of its carcinogenic and genotoxic properties.

The listing moves the substance towards inclusion on the Annex XIV authorisation list, which will oblige companies to apply for permission to continue using the chemical after the sunset date.

NMA is mostly used in polymers and when manufacturing other chemicals, textiles, leather or fur products. It is registered under REACH at 1,000-10,000 tonnes per annum and has 525 notifiers in CLP.

TURI note: NMA (N-Methylolacrylamide) is on the TURA list of reportable substances; in 2020, one facility reported the use of NMA in the manufacture of acrylic polymer emulsions.
Immediate risk management suggested for 300 harmful chemicals

ECHA’s fourth report under its Integrated Regulatory Strategy has been released, showing that considerable progress has been made on accelerating the pace at which regulatory actions are identified for substances of concern.

In 2021, assessments were finalised for more than 1 900 substances, mostly grouped based on their structural similarity. This was 30 % more than in 2020. Around 300 of these substances require risk management measures, while 800 do not currently require further action. The remaining 800 need more data to be generated, and around 350 of these are expected to move to risk management in the future.

WHO raises alarm on tobacco industry environmental impact

WHO has today revealed new information on the extent to which tobacco damages both the environment and human health, calling for steps to make the industry more accountable for the destruction it is causing.

Every year the tobacco industry costs the world more than 8 million human lives, 600 million trees, 200 000 hectares of land, 22 billion tonnes of water and 84 million tonnes of CO2. 

The majority of tobacco is grown in low-and-middle-income countries, where water and farmland are often desperately needed to produce food for the region. Instead, they are being used to grow deadly tobacco plants, while more and more land is being cleared of forests.

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Built on repression

This report investigates the increased manufacturing of PVC (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl) through state-sponsored labour transfers in China’s Uyghur Region and the routes by which the resulting building materials make their way into international markets.

How Fashion Giants Recast Plastic as Good for the Planet
Author: Hiroko Tabuchi

It’s soft. It’s vegan. It looks just like leather.

It’s also made from fossil fuels.

An explosion in the use of inexpensive, petroleum-based materials has transformed the fashion industry, aided by the successful rebranding of synthetic materials like plastic leather (once less flatteringly referred to as “pleather”) into hip alternatives like “vegan leather,” a marketing masterstroke meant to suggest environmental virtue.

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Toxic PCBs managed poorly decades after production ceased
Author: Cheryl Hogue

The poster child for environmentally persistent synthetic chemicals is arguably polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heat-resistant commercial chemicals whose production was phased out decades ago everywhere except North Korea.

But most countries are not managing the remaining PCB stocks and contaminated materials, leaving people, fish, and wildlife at risk from adverse toxic effects to their nervous systems that many of these chemicals can cause, an international team of researchers says (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.2c01204). The failure to properly manage this group of compounds, which haven’t been produced in most of the world in the past 30 years, bodes poorly for the control of other persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the researchers from Canada, the Czech Republic, and the US say.

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EPA Announces Winners of the 2022 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards
Source: EPA

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2022 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation and use of hazardous substances. This year’s winners have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that provide solutions to significant environmental challenges and spur innovation and economic development. In support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis, EPA added a new award category this year that recognizes technology that reduces or eliminates greenhouse gas emissions.

“Tackling environmental challenges like climate change and the disproportionate impact of pollution in communities with environmental justice concerns is going to take creative and innovation solutions – and sustainable, green chemistry is a critical part of that,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator Jennie Romer. “Preventing waste, reducing energy use, and avoiding hazardous chemicals, all of which we’re recognizing with our awards today, demonstrate the power and potential green chemistry has to protect human health and the environment while providing benefits to businesses and our economy.”

The 2022 winners are:
  • Professor Song Lin of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, for developing a new, more efficient process to create large and complicated molecules that are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry. The new technology avoids using hazardous materials and has the potential to reduce both energy use and wasteful byproducts.
  • Merck, Rahway, New Jersey, for developing a greener way to make LAGEVRIO™ (molnupiravir), an antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Merck significantly improved the manufacturing process for this antiviral drug in a short time, producing ingredients more efficiently and greatly reducing solvent waste and energy use.
  • Amgen, Thousand Oaks, California, for an improved manufacturing process for LUMAKRAS™ (sotorasib), a novel drug for the treatment of certain non-small cell lung cancers. Amgen’s innovation decreased manufacturing time, the amount of solvent waste generated and established a recycling process for a high-value waste stream.
  • Provivi, Santa Monica, California, for creating ProviviFAW®, a biological pheromone-based product that controls the fall armyworm, a destructive pest of corn. The product’s pheromone active ingredients are produced through innovative green chemistry using renewable plant oils. ProviviFAW™ can reduce the need for conventional pesticides, which can be harmful to beneficial insects, such as pollinators.
  • Professor Mark Mascal of the University of California, Davis, California, in partnership with Origin Materials, for a technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by producing chemicals for making polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic from biomass rather than petroleum. This novel chemistry could have significant climate impacts by replacing fossil-based products with carbon-neutral, biobased products, especially when the technology is scaled to an entire industry.

This is the bulletin of the TURI Library at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Greenlist Bulletin provides previews of recent publications and websites relevant to reducing the use of toxic chemicals by industries, businesses, communities, individuals and government. You are welcome to send a message to [email protected] if you would like more information on any of the articles listed here, or if this email is not displaying properly.
June 2022