SETAC MultiBrief
Jun. 27, 2013

Environmental Catch-22: Fire safety chemicals in insulation pose risks
A study in Building Research and Information revealed that plastic foam insulation used to increase energy efficiency in California buildings may pose an unnecessary risk to health and the environment. Manufacturers add potentially harmful fire-retardant chemicals to insulation to pass a flammability test required in building codes. But the test isn't reliable for foam plastic insulation, argued fire scientist Vytenis Babrauskas and his colleagues.More

Luminous bacterial proteins detect chemicals in water
HZDR via Environmental Research Letters
While residual medications don't belong in the water, trace metals from industrial process waters handled by the recycling industry are, in contrast, valuable resources. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf have developed a simple color sensor principle which facilitates the easy detection of both materials as well as many other substances. More

OECD assessment of high-volume chemical hazards to end
Bloomberg BNA
An international program that has generated more than 1,000 hazard assessments of high-production-volume chemicals since the 1990s will be replaced by the end of 2014 because its participating countries have decided it no longer fits their priorities, the head of the program said. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Cooperative Chemicals Assessment Program has since the 1990s been the world's only source of internationally agreed hazard assessments for chemicals produced in large amounts, according to Bob Diderich, head of OECD's Environment, Health, and Safety Division.More

Bipartisan proposal may pave path for federal chemical regulation reform
Environmental Leader
As a bipartisan proposal, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act raises the encouraging prospect that a path forward for chemical regulation reform may now have been paved, even though some bumps along the way may still lie ahead. Nonetheless, the bipartisan proposal presents an encouraging opportunity for national chemical regulatory reform and can serve to focus the debate. More

Methane in water seen sixfold higher near fracking sites
Water wells close to gas-drilling sites in Pennsylvania had methane levels more than six times higher than more distant wells, evidence that the boost in production is causing leaks, Duke University researchers found. The chemical fingerprint of the methane, the key component of natural gas, along with the presence of ethane and propane, indicate that much of the gas is from deep underground, such as the Marcellus Shale, according to a study released recently.More

Personal grooming products may be harming Great Lakes marine life
Scientific American
Three of the five Great Lakes — Huron, Superior and Erie — are awash in plastic. But it's not the work of a Christo-like landscape artist covering the waterfront. Rather, small plastic beads, known as micro plastic, are the offenders, according to survey results to be published this summer in Marine Pollution Bulletin.More

'Erin Brockovich' of China says in spite of government vow to address pollution, her 'cancer village' still a killer
CBS News
Wei Dongying has been called the Erin Brockovich of China. She says cancer rates in her home of Wuli Village have spiked because of pollution. Chemical and textile factories opened in Wuli, in the early 1990s, and today some 300 textile facilities line its main estuary. Once a prosperous fishing village, residents say Wuli has become one of China's hundreds of "cancer villages."More

Toxic driveways? Cities ban coal tar sealants
Sci-Tech Today
Studies suggest a common sealant using coal tar contains hazardous chemicals that elevate lifetime cancer risk. So some cities and states are banning its use. The product gradually wears off and breaks down into particles that are washed off by rain into streams, blown by wind or tracked into homes on the soles of shoes. More

Access to Maryland natural area during chemical cleanup worries neighbors
The Washington Post
A wooded expanse in Silver Spring, Md., is where joggers, dog walkers and cyclists can find a refuge inside the Capital Beltway from the cars and the noise. The toxic chemicals are another matter. The woods, which border Rock Creek Park and are part of the Forest Glen annex of the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center, were used during and after World War II as a landfill for medical waste. More