Thursday, August 18, 2011

EPA to Discuss TSCA Chemical Prioritization Process in Upcoming Webinar - Invites Comments

The USEPA is reevaluating and seeks to enhance their current chemicals management program as authorized under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  As part of this reevaluation EPA has scheduled a webinar on the prioritization factors and data sources the Agency plans to use to identify priority substances.  EPA is also inviting the public to share their thoughts in an online discussion forum.

The discussion forum seeks comments on two steps in the process.  The first step is prioritization and is split into two substeps - the priority factors to be used to identify substances of high priority, and the sources of data for those factors.  The second step is to look at additional factors and sources for further analysis beyond the prioritization step.

More information and links to the discussion forum for each of the steps can be found on the
EPA discussion forum site.  All comments will be reviewed by the EPA, though since this is not a formal rule-making EPA will not respond directly to each comment.  The online forum is now open and will remain open through 5:00 pm EDT on September 14, 2011.

In conjunction, EPA is inviting participation in a webinar that will discuss the prioritization factors and data sources.  The webinar will be held on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm EDT.  Interested parties may register for the webinar here.

Prior to the webinar or submitting comments in the online discussion forum, all are encouraged to read EPA's background paper and discussion guide, which lays out the current thought process.  This can be downloaded as a PDF file here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Google Maps to Show Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations

Google has taken yet another step to help people find everything from the nearest grocery store to photos of the neighborhood dog.  And now Google will show you where to charge your electric car.  The new service, called Electric Car Stations, was created as part of the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Center.

The Electric Car Stations service is a community-based source of information on local electric recharging stations.  Through Google Maps, members enter the locations of charging stations, complete with photos, hours of operation, and any pertinent comments. And if you have an iPhone you can go one better - there's an App for that!  The PlugShare app allows users to update information while on the fly (or at least on the road).

The Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Center can be found online here.  The color-coded map lets you know the best, and the worst, states for finding a station.  Not surprisingly California boasts over 500 stations (but don't expect to recharge on your trip through the oil state of Oklahoma).  The site also provides information on other alternative fuels like compressed natural gas, high ethanol blends, propane, biodiesel, liquified natural gas, and even hydrogen.

By the way, this isn't just limited to the United States.  Google Maps also has data for electric vehicle charging stations in Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Madrid and Stockholm.  Search the keywords "ev charging station" and add the location to get an address and phone number.

As more stations are added, Google (and members) will update the database.  Right now there are over 600 charging stations in the US listed.  More to come.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Agencies Propose Using Fewer Animals to Identify Eye Hazards from Chemical Exposure

Two interagency projects have combined to propose a new alternative testing method that will reduce the number of animals used to determine if chemical exposures will lead to eye hazards.  The National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM), in collaboration with the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), have issued a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on the proposal.

The Federal Register notice can be downloaded here.

Specifically, the interagency groups evaluated the classification criteria using results from testing only 3 animals instead of the usual 6 to 18 animals.  They determined that "using a classification criterion of at least 1 positive animal in a 3-animal test to determine eye hazards will provide the same or greater level of eye hazard classification as current FHSA requirements, while using 50% to 83% fewer animals."

Based on their analysis, ICCVAM has developed draft recommendations "to use this classification criterion for ocular safety testing procedures that use only a maximum of 3 animals per test substance."  The goal is to limit the use of animals in testing for the safety of chemicals.  Non-animal test methods are also being developed, and these reduced-animal tests are one step towards eliminating animal testing whenever possible. 

With the Federal Register notice these groups are requesting public comments.  Comments are due by September 26, 2011 and can be done online at the NICEATM-ICCVAM web site here.