Thursday, December 22, 2011

ECHA Adds 20 More Chemicals to Substances of Very High Concern List

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has added twenty additional substances to the Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC).  This brings the list up to a total of 73 chemicals.  Eight of the newly added chemicals were automatically added since no comments challenging their inclusion were received from the public.  The other 12 received unanimous agreement of the Member State Committee.

Of the 20, all but one were added because they have been identified as carcinogenic and/or toxic for reproduction. For the first time, however, one chemical was added to the Candidate List on the basis of "equivalent concern."  Specifically, the substance 4-tert-octyl phenol was "identified as an SVHC because of its endocrine disrupting properties" and "probable serious effects to the environment."  The use of endocrine disrupting properties to list a chemical is somewhat controversial as there is still significant uncertainty surrounding the methodologies used to make the determination.  Validation of a suite of endocrine disruption tests is ongoing, with mixed results.

The Candidate List serves as a launching point for ECHA to add chemicals to the Annex XIV of the REACH regulation, also known as the Authorization List.  Chemicals that are put on Annex XIV are slated for replacement and manufacturers are required to apply for "authorization" for continued use, which is limited to specific uses, volumes and risk management measures, all while working against a deadline for substitution of less hazardous substances.

More information and the list of substances is available on ECHA's recently revamped web site.

Monday, December 19, 2011

NASA Reaffirms Scientific Integrity Policy

According to a press release issued on December 16th:

NASA has reaffirmed its commitment to science with the release of a new framework on scientific integrity. The framework summarizes the agency's policies and practices that strengthen and uphold scientific integrity. This represents the first time NASA has codified these policies under the umbrella of scientific integrity.

"Integrity is woven throughout the fabric of NASA, and science plays a leading role in that," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This framework reflects and strengthens our commitment to open, honest, unrestricted and fair science practices, and sustains a culture that promotes them."

To support this culture of transparency, the framework reaffirms NASA's public communications policy of 2006, which states NASA scientists may speak freely with the public about scientific and technical matters.

"The ability to accurately and widely communicate our amazing science discoveries is one of our highest priorities," said NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "NASA set a high standard with its forward-looking communications policy in 2006, and today we welcome the opportunity to join other agencies that are re-dedicating themselves to the highest standards of scientific excellence and advancing public trust in our discoveries."

NASA and other federal agencies submitted scientific integrity policies in response to a memorandum issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in December 2010. NASA's framework expands on the President's Memorandum to Department and Agency Heads on Scientific Integrity issued March 9, 2009, and specifies how the agency will address key issues.

In addition to public communications, the framework addresses professional development of government scientists and engineers, peer review and other topics. In developing its framework, NASA leadership evaluated the agency's existing policies and sought opportunities to improve and build on them. The agency currently is revising certain policies, including directives on the use of federal advisory committees. NASA will continue evaluating and improving policies within the framework through its formal review and renewal process.

Click here to download a PDF and read NASA's Framework on Scientific Integrity.