Friday, June 17, 2011

ECHA Recommends 13 Chemicals for REACH Authorization (i.e., for the EU "to be banned" chemicals list)

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has recommended thirteen additional chemicals for inclusion on its Annex XIV Authorization list.  These chemicals had been listed on ECHA's "candidate list" of Substances of Very High Concern" (SVHC).  Following consultation and comment, the 13 chemicals could be added to the list of chemicals that will be phased out from continued use, unless the manufacturer/importer applies for an "authorization" for an extended phase out period.  This is the third time ECHA has recommended a set of chemicals for inclusion on Annex XIV.

The following substances are on the third recommendation list:

  1. Chromium trioxide;
  2. Chromic acid, Oligomers of chromic acid and dichromic acid;
  3. Sodium dichromate;
  4. Potassium dichromate;
  5. Ammonium dichromate;
  6. Potassium chromate;
  7. Sodium chromate;
  8. Trichloroethylene;
  9. Cobalt(II) sulphate;
  10. Cobalt dichloride;
  11. Cobalt(II) dinitrate;
  12. Cobalt(II) carbonate;
  13. Cobalt(II) diacetate.
According to ECHA's press release:

Using the web forms available on ECHA’s website, interested parties are invited to comment, in particular on the uses that should be exempted from the authorisation requirement.

More information about how to comment and the authorization process can be found here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

EPA Makes Available Two New Chemical Toxicity Databases

The USEPA has announced that it is making available two new databases to make it easier for people to find chemical data.  One database is the Toxicity Forecaster database (ToxCastDB) containing toxicity information.  The other is a database of chemical exposure studies (ExpoCastDB), which can be used to evaluate how much chemical to which people may be exposed.  Both are searchable.

The Toxicity Forecast database (ToxCastDB) can be used to download toxicity data from more than 500 rapid chemical tests that have been conducted on more than 300 environmental chemicals.  "ToxCast uses advanced scientific tools to predict the potential toxicity of chemicals and to provide a cost-effective approach to prioritizing which chemicals of the thousands in use require further testing."  Another 700 chemicals are currently being screened using ToxCast, with the data expected to be available by next year.

The ExpoCast database "consolidates human exposure data from studies that have collected chemical measurements from homes and child care centers."  According to EPA's press release, "data include the amounts of chemicals found in food, drinking water, air, dust, indoor surfaces and urine."  Additional external and internal chemical exposure data will be added as they become available. 

The new databases link together two important pieces of chemical research — exposure and toxicity data — both of which are required when considering potential risks posed by chemicals. The databases are connected through EPA’s Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource (ACToR), an online data warehouse that collects data on over 500,000 chemicals from over 500 public sources.

Users can now access 30 years worth of animal chemical toxicity studies that were previously only found in paper documents, data from rapid chemical testing, and various chemical exposure measurements through one online resource. The ability to link and compare these different types of data better informs EPA’s decisions about chemical safety.
More information and links to the databases can be found on the EPA web site.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ECHA Forces Private Company to Close its REACH Chemicals Database

As part of its REACH chemical regulation program, the European Chemicals Agecny (ECHA) has created a database portal called REACH-IT by which companies are required to submit their REACH data dossiers and conduct other business with ECHA online.  ECHA has now forced one company, Eugachem, to stop selling information it had inappropriately obtained on pre-registered chemicals.

The first step of REACH was for companies to "pre-register" their existing chemicals, i.e., inform ECHA via the REACH-IT system that they intended to register existing chemicals in Europe.  This pre-registration gave companies the benefit of a grace period during which they could stay on the market while they developed their data dossiers.  Any chemicals not pre-registered would be considered "new" chemicals, and companies had to provide the data dossiers to ECHA prior to going on the market.

According to ECHA, they first became aware in June 2009 that the company Eugachem was selling information on pre-registrations; information that they had obtained from another company that had pre-registered the entire EINECS list (the former list of all existing chemicals in Europe). The company was essentially sued in the German courts and ECHA "considered Eugachem’s use of this information as a breach of ECHA’s copyrights in the REACH-IT database and the other company’s transfer of this information to Eugachem as a breach of ECHA’s terms and conditions of use of REACH-IT."

As a result of court action:

Eugachem has now agreed to discontinue the service and to destroy all data on pre-registered substances in its possession. The company that transferred the data to Eugachem has agreed to use the data that has been or will be taken from the REACH-IT database only within the scope of the “Terms and conditions of use and services of REACH-IT”. It further agreed to no longer transfer such data to third parties, and to identify those pre-registrations which it actually needs for fulfilling its obligations under REACH. Its other pre-registrations will be deleted.

More information and a reminder by ECHA of the terms and conditions of use of REACH-IT can be found on the ECHA web site.

Monday, June 13, 2011

NASA Launches Aquarius/SAC-D Satellite to Collect Global Warming/Salinity Data

In case you missed it, last Friday NASA, along with the Space Agency of Argentina, launched the international "Aquarius" satellite.  According to NASA, Aquarius "is a focused effort to measure Sea Surface Salinity and will provide the global view of salinity variability needed for climate studies." A Delta II rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force base carrying the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft.  Within an hour it had "separated from the rocket's second stage and began communicating with ground controllers and unfurling its solar arrays."

The mission of Aquarius is to investigate the salinity of the oceans.  Within a few months, "Aquarius will collect as many sea surface salinity measurements as the entire 125-year historical record from ships and buoys."  These data will be invaluable in the investigation of the water cycle, ocean circulation, and climate change.

Regarding the climate aspects, the blog RealClimate, run by a group of world renowned climatologists, has a great summary of why the data Aquarius collects is so important.

You can follow the progress of Aquarius on the NASA web site here.