Saturday, October 23, 2010

Japan Chemical Association Highlights Japanese Business Trends

The Japan Chemical Industry Association (JCIA) has released a powerpoint presentation highlighting business trends in the chemical industry.  After posting significant decreases in production and shipment from early 2008 through early 2009, both started recovering by the end of the first quarter 2009 and have now reached levels consistent with inventories.

A series of powerpoints can be downloaded here.

The JCIA has about 180 member companies and about 80 organizations engaged in the manufacturing and handling of chemical products and related services. "Under the basic idea of "coexistence and co-prosperity with society," JCIA has continued to undertake activities for almost half a century to fulfill its mission of promoting the stable development of the chemical industry and thus contributing to the economic prosperity of Japan and elevation of its living standards."

Friday, October 22, 2010

ECHA Suggests Companies Verify Which Substances Have Been Registered Under REACH

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has posted an update to its list of substances proposed for registration in 2010.  And now the list contains information on which of the substances have already been registered.  As of this writing there were 4742 substances that had been proposed, with a little less than half - 2128 - already through the registration process.

And with the first deadline for registration of November 30, 2010 rapidly approaching, there will be a lot of new registrations going online in the next few weeks.  ECHA promises to update the list weekly.

ECHA also recommends that downstream users check the substances that they use in their products to make sure they are being registered on time by the manufacturer or importer.  Substances that are not registered on time will no longer be allowed for sale until the full registration dossier is submitted.  Of course, not all substances are due this year - only those manufactured or imported in volumes exceeding 1000 tpa or are substances of high concern.  The remaining substances produced in lesser volumes are not due to be registered until either 2013 or 2018 depending on tonnage.

More information can be found on the ECHA site, including the list in PDF and other downloadable formats.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stockholm Convention POPs Committee Reviews 3 Chemicals - Recommends to Get Rid of Endosulfan

"The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), a subsidiary body to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, adopted a dozen decisions at its sixth meeting, concluded last Friday, including ones aimed at strengthening chemicals science on climate change and POPs."  So says the press release issued two days ago.  On the cutting block - Endosulfan - the widely used pesticide for which the committee recommended listing in Annex A of the Convention. Such a listing normally leads to a chemical's elimination from commerce.

According to the findings, "Endosulfan is used on many crops such as soy, cotton, rice, and tea.  It is highly toxic to humans and many other animals and has been found in the environment, including the Arctic."

The long range transport, persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity characteristics were deemed sufficient for action even though there remains some scientific uncertainty and contentious disagreements from some of the parties.

The POPs committee also adopted the risk profile on hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), which is "a flame retardant used mainly in expanded and extruded polystyrene."  Based on its "adverse effects, persistence, bioaccumulation and long-range transport," the committee determined that HBCD "should proceed to the risk management phase, the next step in the committee’s review process."

However, they postponed making a decision on short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCP), which they felt needed more data collection.  SCCPs are "used in metalworking, and the formulation and manufacturing of products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics and metalworking fluids."

The committee's recommendations are passed on to the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention, which will be held in Geneva in April 2011.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Report Says Flooring and Wallpaper Emit Toxic Chemicals

A non-profit group in Michigan - the Ecology Center - has released a new study on home improvement products and found "toxic chemicals in commonly-used flooring and wallpaper."  They tested "more than 1,000 flooring samples and nearly 2,300 types of wallpaper for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer."

Publishing under the project name of, they noted that:
Heavy metals and other additives are commonly found in residential flooring and wallpaper. These chemicals include lead, cadmium, flame retardants, tin compounds and phthalates -- harmful chemicals that are linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer. 
More information can be found on the study web site.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Does Canada's Declaration that BPA is Toxic Make Sense?

I noted last week that the Canadian government formally labeled Bisphenol A (BPA) as "toxic," and added it to Schedule I of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999. But does their action make any sense?  After all, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had only days before stated their belief that BPA is safe for use in food-contact items.  The USEPA isn't basing any of its proposed actions on human health effects.  The USFDA seems to think BPA is okay to use.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which represents major chemical manufacturers and plastics chemical manufacturers (including BPA), notes that:
"...Environment Canada’s announcement is contrary to the weight of worldwide scientific evidence, unwarranted and will unnecessarily confuse and alarm the public."

According to ACC, Enviroment Canada's "decision also appears to contradict the very recent opinion of Health Canada, which stated in August that ‘the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants.’"

Canada has issued a series of risk management action milestones that include such actions as prohibiting the importation of baby bottles containing BPA, reviewing all medical devices and notifications for substances used in the packaging of baby formulas, and facilitating the assessment of proposed industry alternatives to bisphenol A used in can linings.

While there seems to be quite a difference of opinion on the hazards of BPA, or lack of hazard, the primary concern of Canada is that "the neurodevelopmental and behavioural dataset in rodents, though highly uncertain, is suggestive of potential effects at doses at the same order of magnitude to 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than exposures."  So the potential for hazard is still contentious, but Canada feels that the the "potential sensitivity to the pregnant woman/fetus and infant," and the suggestion from rodent studies that there is "heightened susceptibility during stages of development in rodents."  As such they have determined that "it is considered appropriate to apply a precautionary approach when characterizing risk."

Monday, October 18, 2010

ECHA to Automatically Make REACH Registration Documents Public Without First Checking on CBI

Today the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced that it will soon institute a dissemination system in which REACH registration dossiers will be made public without ECHA having to communicate first with companies to check on confidential business information (CBI) claims.  The new system supposedly automatically holds back anything marked as confidential, so in theory no CBI will be released even though ECHA won't be checking first.  Previously ECHA contacted registrants before releasing the information, mostly because there was concern that registrants may not completely understand how to flag their CBI information as CBI in the complex IUCLID dossier creation software.

The rationale for making the change now - besides reducing the burden on ECHA - is that ECHA has made available an IT tool and a series of manuals to help registrants enter the information correctly and to check to ensure their CBI is properly protected.  This dissemination tool is akin to the Technical Completeness Check (TCC) tool that allows REACH registrants to check their dossiers before sending them electronically to ECHA.  The philosophy is that it is better to work out the bugs before sending than to back up technical evaluations after submission.  The TCC tool has been invaluable to registrants.  And they should be quick to use the dissemination tool as well to ensure that only non-confidential information is released publicly.

More information can be found on the ECHA web site. The site includes several links to details and the IUCLID site where current registrants can download the tool.