News Digest (Oct 2013): Recent news and comment about chemical toxicity and regulation

October 21, 2013 at 10:22 am | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment

It’s Not Easy Being Green. Even with the rise of green chemistry, the discipline and industry still have a long way to go. One problem is that academic and entrepreneurial chemists often focus solely on applications for new chemicals, says David J. C. Constable, director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute (GCI). “They certainly don’t look at things from a life-cycle perspective,” which considers the availability and sources of raw materials as well as uses and ultimate disposal of products, he says.

Companies making progress in this area include Procter and Gamble, who have banned two controversial ingredients (phthalates and triclosan) following J&J’s commitment last year to remove carcinogens from their product line, Wal-Mart which announced that it will require suppliers to disclose and eventually phase out nearly 10 hazardous chemicals from the fragrances, cosmetics, household cleaners and personal care products at its stores, and the Danish Coop, which claims to have removed all endocrine-disrupting chemicals from its products.

For scientists in a democracy, to dissent is to be reasonable. It’s as clear and chilling a statement of intent as you’re likely to read. Scientists should be “the voice of reason, rather than dissent, in the public arena”. Vladimir Putin? Kim Jong-un? No, Professor Ian Boyd, chief scientific adviser at the UK’s Department for Environment.

‘Chemical brain drain’ endangers generations of children. “We get only one chance to generate a nervous system, so developing brains need vigorous protection,” says Prof Philippe Grandjean.

Journal editors trade blows over toxicology. NATURE: Dozens more researchers this week joined the fray in a row over how regulators should assess the risks of potentially dangerous chemicals used in everything from plastics to pesticides. Many of those who sparked the row have conflicts of interest with the industries which would be regulated by any such moves.

Pesticides’ effect on generations of field-workers. Excellent breakdown of the day-to-day practice of epidemiology and how it builds up over years into a picture of how people’s environments affect their health. Focuses on Brenda Eskenazi, head of the CHAMACOS project.

A Powerful Union: OB-GYNs and Chemical Policy Reform. What would you think if your OB-GYN started to have a serious conversation with you about shampoo and toothpaste? You would probably think it was strange and off-topic. But soon conversations like this could join breast exams and contraceptive counseling as routine reproductive healthcare.

Law advising public of chemical dangers kicking in. After five years in the works, a California law intended to educate consumers about harmful chemicals in the products they buy and require businesses to adopt safer alternatives is only days away from taking effect. (One of the regulators explains the how the new law will work, here.)

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