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~tTradepersons still at risk of asbestos exposure
Recently, Tom Phillips, the chair of Safe Work Australia Chair,
announced the release of the report: Asbestos Exposure and Compliance
Study of Construction and Maintenance Workers. The aim of the study
was to determine the current levels of awareness, worker compliance
with legislation, the attitudes of workers and exposure levels to
asbestos in construction and maintenance workers. Findings from the
study included:
Most tradespersons were aware of the potential health risks of
asbestos. This high level of general awareness is not accompanied by
the knowledge of how to recognise asbestos or control the risks when
working with it. Although tradespersons believe they can identify
asbestos materials, in practice their ability to reliably identify
them was limited. This was generally because their identification
skills were insufficient, asbestos registers were often absent or
inaccurate and few premises had labelling of materials or areas
containing asbestos.
Almost all tradespeople surveyed thought they could protect
themselves from the risk of asbestos. However, the overall level of
compliance with safety procedures was much lower than was estimated
by these workers.
There was inappropriate disposal of asbestos and contaminated
Atmospheric monitoring of a limited number of selected work tasks
showed that all exposures were below the workplace exposure standard.
According to Mr Phillips, this study adds significantly to our
knowledge of the awareness of and compliance with occupational health
and safety legislation by tradespeople in relation to asbestos. “It
is concerning that although tradespeople have a high level of
awareness and confidence in being able to protect themselves, this is
not matched with the use of necessary safety precautions when working
with asbestos. “The results of this study will be used to inform
effective strategies to eliminate, or reduce, worker exposure to
asbestos. Local, state and federal governments must work together to
improve worker education and information on asbestos, particularly
the development of practical advice on how workers can protect
themselves from exposure to asbestos, and on safe asbestos removal
and disposal. This will help to reduce both individual suffering and
the substantial cost to families and the community,” Mr Phillips
said. For a copy of the study go to:
SafeWork Australia, 15 February 2010

~tAPVMA Response to the National Registration Scheme Review
Discussion Paper
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA)
has provided its response to the discussion paper "A National Scheme
for Assessment Registration and Control of Use of Agricultural
Veterinary Chemicals". To view this response, go to:
APVMA Regulatory Update 93, 12 February 2010
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~tChina forced to relaunch food safety crackdown
A new national food safety drive has been initiated in China
following a wave of recent damaging revelations over melamine-tainted
milk products in the country. Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang
recently vowed the campaign would focus on the food processing, food
additives and health supplements sectors, as well as livestock
slaughter, food circulation and farm products, reported state media.
Li admitted serious problems remained with the country’s food safety
system and that the situation was urgent. Speaking at the first
plenary session of the recently-formed food safety commission, he
said: "We should understand the foundation for the country's food
safety is still weak and the situation is grave. We should fully
realize that it is a pressing issue to ensure food safety." The re-
launch of the food safety campaign was forced on Beijing after the
further discovery of products contaminated with melamine surfaced.
These are believed to have been repackaged for sale and put back on
the market instead of being destroyed after the 2008 scandal, whereby
milk powder laced with melamine killed six children and sickened an
estimated 300,000. The Vice Premier vowed to "thoroughly" investigate
the latest milk scandal, destroy all tainted products and severely
punish those responsible. Chinese authorities have announced that
they had closed two dairies in the northern region of Ningxia
following the discovery of a further 170 tonnes of tainted milk
powder. The situation is certain to be seen as an embarrassing
setback for the government after the introduction of its new food
safety law in summer 2009. This was accompanied by a string of other
measures designed to show how seriously it was taking the issue -
including the unveiling of better testing systems and a method to
recall problem products, as well as placing more responsibility on
food producers themselves to ensure their products were safe. Li re-
emphasised the need for food producers and sellers to act responsibly
but also called on various government departments to strengthen
oversight of businesses. He urged improvement in food safety
standards and the food system production check-ups, risk evaluation,
accident prevention and emergency response.
Nutra Ingredients, 10 February 2010


~tEPA Proposes New Use Rule for Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a significant new
use rule (SNUR) for multi-walled carbon nanotubes under Section
5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Under the proposed rule,
not all of the companies or organisations that would be affected by
the rule are identified. However, it does say manufacturers,
importers, or processors of the tubes (NAICS codes 325 and 324110),
such as chemical manufacturing and petroleum refineries, could be. If
the rule is finalised, anyone intending to manufacture, import, or
process multi-walled carbon nanotubes for an activity that is
designated as a significant new use would have to notify EPA at least
90 days in advance, giving the agency time to evaluate the intended
use and prohibit it, if necessary. Section 5(a)(2) of the act says
EPA must consider all relevant factors before determining a use of a
chemical substance is a significant new use, including:
projected volume of manufacturing and processing of a chemical
extent to which a use changes the type or form of exposure of human
beings or the environment to a chemical substance,
extent to which a use increases the magnitude and duration of
exposure of human beings or the environment to a chemical substance,
reasonably anticipated manner and methods of manufacturing,
processing, distribution in commerce, and disposal of a chemical

In addition, EPA said it considered relevant information regarding
toxicity, likely human exposures, and environmental releases
associated with possible uses in this case. This SNUR applies only to
the multi-walled carbon nanotubes described in P-08-199 as generic
multi-walled carbon nanotubes (no CAS number available) that will be
used as an additive/filler for polymer composites and support media
for industrial catalysts. "Based on test data on analogous
respirable, poorly soluble particulates and on other carbon nanotubes
(CNTs), EPA identified concerns for lung effects, immunotoxicity, and
mutagenicity from exposure to the . . . substance," the proposed rule
states. "For the uses described. . . , worker inhalation and dermal
exposures are minimal due to the use of adequate personal protective
equipment. Therefore, EPA has not determined that the proposed
manufacturing, processing, or use of the substance may present an
unreasonable risk. However, EPA has determined that use of the
substance without the use of gloves and protective clothing, where
there is a potential for dermal exposure; use of the substance
without a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-
approved full-face respirator with an N100 cartridge, where there is
a potential for inhalation exposure; or use other than as described .
. . may cause serious health effects."
Environmental Protection News, 5 February 2010
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~tFEMA Releases Draft National Disaster Recovery Framework
The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the interagency Long
Term Disaster Recovery Working Group, has issued a draft of the
National Disaster Recovery Framework. The framework focuses on
engaging state, local and tribal governments, nonprofit partners, the
private sector and the public to enhance the nation’s ability to
recovery from disasters. The National Disaster Recovery Framework
provides a model to collectively identify and address challenges that
arise during the disaster recovery process. It is designed to help
the broad emergency management community work better together to
support individuals, households and communities as they rebuild and
restore their ways of life following a disaster. The development of
the Recovery Framework was based on input from all levels of
government, the private sector, academic and emergency management
communities, voluntary and non-profit organisations and a wide array
of associations and organisations. Meetings and briefings, online
engagement and a series of video teleconferences and stakeholder
forums in five key cities were used to collect information. The
report can be found at:
EHS Today, 5 February 2010
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~tUS EPA's ToxCast program offers rapid screening of environmental
chemicals with potential genetic effects
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports a new
development under its computational toxicology program ToxCast with
the development of Factorial - a new high throughput cellular
biosensor technology that allows the rapid assessment of
environmental chemicals for their effects on gene regulatory
networks. In addition, ToxCast can link these to in vivo end points,
enabling use of the technology for toxicity pathway biomarkers and in
vivo toxicity predictive modelling. For further information go to:
Chemical Watch, 11 February 2010

~tMaine DEP Finds Pharmaceuticals in Landfill Leachate
Recently, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection received
the results of tests conducted on leachate from three landfills in
Maine – Augusta, Brunswick and Bath, and found that pharmaceutical
drugs disposed of in household waste do end up in the liquid that
drains or 'leaches' from a landfill. “These test results back up what
we believed to be true and that is that leftover prescription drugs
that people throw away really don’t ever go away,” says Mark Hyland,
director of the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management. “This is
one reason we want pharmaceutical companies to do their part in
taking back medication that people are no longer using and dispose of
it properly.” When prescription drugs are no longer required they are
typically: thrown in the trash, stashed in medicine cabinets – where
you run the risk of accidental poisoning, flushed down the toilet –
only to travel through wastewater treatment facilities essentially
untreated, misused, or the cause of drug related crimes. Leachate is
typically sent from the landfill to a wastewater treatment plant
where pharmaceuticals may pass through virtually untreated and go
directly in the river. Wastewater treatment plants are designed to
remove human waste not pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmaceuticals that end
up in waterbodies can have negative impacts on fish and aquatic
organisms. Tests were conducted in Augusta, Brunswick, and Bath
because they are landfills that take in a lot of household waste but
haven’t historically taken in sludge from wastewater treatment
plants, which DEP felt could skew the test results. Types of drugs
found in the leachate water were consistent in all three landfills
and include antidepressants, antibiotics, steroids, as well as heart,
asthma, and pain medications. State Rep. Ann Perry of Calais is
sponsoring a bill that would have pharmaceutical companies that
distribute drugs in Maine be responsible for collecting and properly
disposing of unwanted drugs. This is an effort that the DEP, the
Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Public
Safety, and the Attorney General support. The agencies feel the
legislation would save money by reducing health care, public safety,
and environmental costs
Environmental Protection News, 10 February 2010
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~tSenators propose cap and trade on power station pollutants
While Congress continues to debate whether to regulate the emission
of carbon dioxide, newly-proposed legislation has upped the ante. A
bill introduced into the Senate would curb emissions of sulphur
dioxide and other gases. The Clean Air Amendments of 2010 Bill,
introduced by Senators Thomas Carper and Lamar Alexander, would
introduce cap and trade schemes to limit the emissions of gases from
coal plants. Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide would be covered by
the Act. Mercury emissions from coal plants could be reduced by as
much as 90 per cent, according to Carper. "Mercury can contaminate
our crops and water supply, ultimately harming brain function and
other vital organs, and is especially harmful to children and
pregnant women," said Senator Alexander in a statement. "Sulphur
dioxide and nitrogen oxides can contribute to respiratory illness and
other lung diseases." Under the proposed legislation, sulphur dioxide
emissions would need to be cut by 80 per cent from 2008 levels, and
nitrous oxide emissions by 53 per cent. Mercury emissions would be
reduced by at least 90 per cent no later than 2015. Nationwide
trading systems for sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions would
be introduced, while the EPA would regulate omissions of Mercury. The
last time that the Clean Air Act was revised was in 1990, when a cap
and trade scheme was introduced. Although the EPA has tried to
introduce further regulations on this and other gases, legal
challenges have blocked them.
Business Green, 9 February 2010


~tMixture toxicity review calls for new assessment guidelines
According to a study recently published by the European Commission’s
DG Environment, new guidelines for the assessment of chemical
mixtures are required. The review of current scientific knowledge and
regulatory approaches to mixture toxicity, State of the Art Report on
Mixture Toxicity, notes that scientific research has repeatedly shown
that mixture effects are considerably more pronounced than the
effects of individual mixture components. In addition, it recognises
that chemical mixtures, rather than individual substances, are often
the source of environmental pollution – clearly underlining “the need
for dedicated regulatory considerations of the problem of chemical
mixtures in the environment.” The report says that current mixture
guidelines, such as those issued by the US Environmental Protection
Agency and the World Health Organisation, are limited to human health
risk assessment; whereas, the European regulatory system puts
environmental protection on an equal footing. “A future European
guideline for the assessment of chemical mixtures therefore should go
beyond the reach of currently existing regulatory approaches and
should extend its scope to the protection of ecosystem structure and
function from the detrimental effects of chemical mixtures,” it
recommends. The report calls for a stronger EU legal mandate for
mixture risk assessment, but acknowledges that even though there is
sufficient know-how to assess potential risks to human health and the
environment from combined exposures, how this scientific knowledge
might be best transferred into appropriate regulatory approaches is
not easy. “The development of appropriate procedures and
methodologies that are adequate in a specific legal context may
require considerable additional efforts,” it says. The report details
that assessment of combined exposures within existing legislation is
limited. While process-oriented controls do tackle combinational
effects to some extent, the real focus should be on assessing and
controlling exposures. It recommends the application of concentration
or dose addition as a first-tier default assessment concept for
predicting mixture effects; however the report goes on to say that
the current generation of toxicity data should consider future
developments in the field of mixture effects evaluation. Regulation
of chemical mixtures will depend on results from single substance
assessments such as those conducted under REACH, it says.

  “It is therefore imperative to ensure that single substance studies
and assessments are properly documented in a coherent and uniform
way, independent of the specific regulatory area in which they were
conducted. Only then will it be possible to exploit our knowledge of
the toxicity and ecotoxicity of individual substances for subsequent
mixture risk assessments.” It adds that the dual-use of single
substance data should already be considered when designing and
implementing studies for the risk assessment of individual chemicals.
Furthermore, the study calls for more information to be compiled
systematically on typical exposure situations with respect to
chemical mixtures. Beyond the lists of priority chemicals that are
currently defined, the study says, “we need to know priority chemical
mixtures that are present in the environment and might have an impact
on human health and ecosystems.” It also says understanding of the
determinants of synergistic effects needs to be improved
scientifically, with a view of being able to anticipate synergisms in
the future. The report was prepared by The School of Pharmacy
University of London, Göteborg University and Faust & Backhaus
Environmental Consulting. It will be used as part of the Commission’s
work to assess how and whether existing legislation addresses the
issue of mixture toxicity, and to suggest appropriate modifications
and guidelines – as was requested by the Environment Council in
December. The Commission is expected to complete its work by early
2012. The Commission notes that the number of chemical combinations
is potentially enormous and it is neither realistic nor useful to
test every possible combination. It adds that methodologies for
assessing or estimating the combination effects of chemicals are
being developed and used by scientists and regulators in specific
circumstances, but as yet there is no systematic, comprehensive and
integrated approach. Relevant Member State authorities and
representatives of interest groups will have an opportunity to
discuss and comment on the report. For a copy of the report go to:
Chemical Watch, 10 February 2010

~tEuropean Commission publishes complete risk assessment of bisphenol
The European Commission's Institute for Health and Consumer
Protection has issued a complete risk assessment report for bisphenol
A (BPA) - the new version includes the 2008 addendum to the
substance's original 2003 report. For further details go to:
Chemical Watch, 10 February 2010

~t Consultation launched on sustainable pesticides use
A consultation on how to implement new European rules on pesticides
was launched recently, which is seeking views on how to implement the
European Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, which covers
areas including the training of pesticide users, inspection of
spraying equipment and minimising the risk of pollution from
pesticides. In addition, the consultation puts forward options on
access to information about pesticides used near homes, and how
people could be given the option to obtain this information.
Environment Minister Dan Norris said: “Public health is our priority,
and I look forward to hearing people’s views on how we can build on
the UK’s very high pesticide safety standards. “We need a balanced
approach to further reduce the risks and impacts of pesticides on
people and the environment, while ensuring we can continue to grow
high-quality affordable food to help feed a growing population.” The
consultation, which has been launched by the Chemicals Regulation
Directorate on behalf of Defra, includes options on approaches
ranging from retaining the current system to adopting further
regulatory controls and runs until 4 May. Further details can be
found at
Defra, 9 February 2010
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~tEnvironment Committee posts draft recast of WEEE Directive
A draft legislative resolution recasting the Directive on waste
electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has been posted by the
Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European
Parliament. The draft report will be discussed shortly by the
Committee, and should be debated by the European Parliament in May.
The proposal extends the scope of the Directive to cover all
electrical and electronic equipment with the exception of large-scale
fixed industrial installations and photovoltaic cells. The existing
WEEE Directive covers equipment listed in Annex I of the restriction
of hazardous substances (RoHS) Directive. However, the Environment
Committee draft report notes that RoHS and WEEE have different
regulatory purposes and should differ in scope. It states that an
open scope should provide greater legal certainty as almost all
electrical and electronic equipment will be included. It argues that
a binding, category-based product list would have to be continually
revised in order to reflect technical progress. The exemption for
photovoltaic equipment is based on their contribution to reducing
carbon dioxide emissions and the fact that they are installed and
removed by specialists and the solar industry has committed to a
voluntary agreement to recycle 85% of photovoltaic modules. The draft
suggests that the Commission should monitor the voluntary approach
and decide by the end of 2014 if photovoltaics should also be
included in the Directive’s scope. Furthermore, the draft proposal
calls on Member States to prioritise measures to tackle cooling
equipment containing ozone-depleting substances and fluorinated
greenhouse gases, and mercury containing lamps. In particular it
notes that while mercury-containing lamps are increasingly marketed
as energy-saving lamps, they present a major risk to the environment
and health and should be collected separately. The report
acknowledges a Commission Impact Assessment which indicated that 85%
of electronic waste is already being collected.

However, it says, these quantities are not being reported to official
registers and much of the waste is not being properly treated: only
33% of waste equipment is being officially reported, collected and
treated in line with the Directive. Furthermore, waste electrical and
electronic equipment represents the fastest-growing waste stream in
the EU. The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomed the report.
In a statement it noted that it has long pressed for the EU to seize
opportunities for improving the management of e-waste in the revision
of WEEE. “This could be the first step towards ensuring that the
millions of tonnes of electronic equipment produced in Europe each
year are reused, recycled and treated in a more sustainable way,” it
said. The group added that the Directive would be further
strengthened by setting:
    Specific targets for small appliances which often end up in the
      waste bin
    Clear responsibility for distributors and dedicated financial
      resources for municipalities for public communication
    Reporting requirements on input and output by all WEEE
      facilities at Member State level, to keep better track of what
      is in the system
    Stronger links between collection, recycling and treatment
      standards and financial guarantees set by producers when
      placing a product on a market, to cover future end of life
For a copy of the draft report go to:
Chemical Watch, 18 February 2010

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