Tell us what you think. Which news is of most interest to you? Breaking news on chemicals policy? New materials? Or nanomaterials in the environment?
While the antibacterial ingredient known as triclosan continues to be used widely in soaps, toothpaste and other personal care products, Minnesota has passed a law making it the first state to ban the chemical from such items. Scientific studies have found triclosan in lake and river sediment, and raise questions about its ability to increase antibiotic resistance and potential for hormonal effects. The FDA says there’s no evidence soaps containing triclosan are more effective than those that don’t and is now reviewing the chemical’s safety. Minnesota’s ban takes effect in 2017.
Chemicals & Health
We have long known that supposedly inert chemicals in plastics can break away from the finished product, exposing people and the environment to their health hazards. Flame retardants, plasticizers and monomers like Bisphenol A (BPA) are all well-known examples of chemicals that can emerge from plastics. Yet, somehow nanomaterials were assumed to be different—that once embedded in a plastic they would stay put. But the forces of nature have demonstrated otherwise. Environmental degradation – UV light, moisture and abrasion–were found in this research to cause carbon nanotubes to be released from nanocomposites, as these polymers are called. The scientists say that given concern about carbon nanotubes’ potential environmental health effects, more research is needed to better understand exactly when and how fast such release happens, the toxicity of the materials and how improved design can increase the safety of the materials.
This is an exciting period of material innovation, as manufacturers explore new frontiers in making chemicals and plastics from fossil fuel alternatives. With growing demand for products with environmentally friendly credentials, the chemical manufacturer SABIC plans to dip into the deep fat fryer and use cooking oil and waste fat as the feedstock for low-density and linear polyethylene – plastics used in food packaging and other flexible plastic products. The Saudi Arabia-based company will produce a line of these polyolefins at its plant in Geerlen, Netherlands. On the face of it, the project looks greener for a plastic. Instead of fossil fuels, convert waste into a new material. While polyethylene looks to be of the less bad sort of plastic, what we remain intrigued to know is: What are the catalysts and additives used to make the polyethylene? What is the full chemical footprint of that plastic? We applaud the use of waste for material -- now come clean and tell us what’s in that “greener” material.