If Lead Ammunition is Bad for People and the Environment, Why Do We Still Use It?

Read the full story at Ensia.

Concerns about regulation, skepticism about the science and misperceptions about costs are slowing the transition to nontoxic alternatives.

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Oil and Natural Gas Operations: Potential Environmental Contamination and Recommendations to Assess Complex Environmental Mixtures

Kassotis CD, Tillitt DE, Lin CH, McElroy JA, Nagel SC. 2016. “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and oil and natural gas operations: potential environmental contamination and recommendations to assess complex environmental mixtures.” Environ Health Perspect 124:256–264; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1409535


Background: Hydraulic fracturing technologies, developed over the last 65 years, have only recently been combined with horizontal drilling to unlock oil and gas reserves previously deemed inaccessible. Although these technologies have dramatically increased domestic oil and natural gas production, they have also raised concerns for the potential contamination of local water supplies with the approximately 1,000 chemicals that are used throughout the process, including many known or suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Objectives: We discuss the need for an endocrine component to health assessments for drilling-dense regions in the context of hormonal and antihormonal activities for chemicals used.

Methods: We discuss the literature on a) surface and groundwater contamination by oil and gas extraction operations, and b) potential human exposure, particularly in the context of the total hormonal and antihormonal activities present in surface and groundwater from natural and anthropogenic sources; we also discuss initial analytical results and critical knowledge gaps.

Discussion: In light of the potential for environmental release of oil and gas chemicals that can disrupt hormone receptor systems, we recommend methods for assessing complex hormonally active environmental mixtures.

Conclusions: We describe a need for an endocrine-centric component for overall health assessments and provide information supporting the idea that using such a component will help explain reported adverse health trends as well as help develop recommendations for environmental impact assessments and monitoring programs.


Meeting the Needs for Released Nanomaterials Required for Further Testing—The SUN Approach

Bernd Nowack, Alessio Boldrin, Alejandro Caballero, Steffen Foss Hansen, Fadri Gottschalk, Laura Heggelund, Michael Hennig, Aiga Mackevica, Hanna Maes, Jana Navratilova, Nicole Neubauer, Ruud Peters, Jerome Rose, Andreas Schäffer, Lorette Scifo, Stefan van Leeuwen, Frank von der Kammer, Wendel Wohlleben, Anne Wyrwoll, and Danail Hristozov (2016.) “Meeting the Needs for Released Nanomaterials Required for Further Testing—The SUN Approach.” Environmental Science & Technology Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04472

Abstract: The analysis of the potential risks of engineered nanomaterials (ENM) has so far been almost exclusively focused on the pristine, as-produced particles. However, when considering a life-cycle perspective, it is clear that ENM released from genuine products during manufacturing, use, and disposal is far more relevant. Research on the release of materials from nanoproducts is growing and the next necessary step is to investigate the behavior and effects of these released materials in the environment and on humans. Therefore, sufficient amounts of released materials need to be available for further testing. In addition, ENM-free reference materials are needed since many processes not only release ENM but also nanosized fragments from the ENM-containing matrix that may interfere with further tests. The SUN consortium (Project on “Sustainable Nanotechnologies”, EU seventh Framework funding) uses methods to characterize and quantify nanomaterials released from composite samples that are exposed to environmental stressors. Here we describe an approach to provide materials in hundreds of gram quantities mimicking actual released materials from coatings and polymer nanocomposites by producing what is called “fragmented products” (FP). These FP can further be exposed to environmental conditions (e.g., humidity, light) to produce “weathered fragmented products” (WFP) or can be subjected to a further size fractionation to isolate “sieved fragmented products” (SFP) that are representative for inhalation studies. In this perspective we describe the approach, and the used methods to obtain released materials in amounts large enough to be suitable for further fate and (eco)toxicity testing. We present a case study (nanoparticulate organic pigment in polypropylene) to show exemplarily the procedures used to produce the FP. We present some characterization data of the FP and discuss critically the further potential and the usefulness of the approach we developed.

Expert panel agrees with draft NTP reports

Read the full story from the National Toxicology Program.

An expert scientific panel reviewed draft National Toxicology Program (NTP) technical reports on the carcinogenicity and toxicity of the flame retardant antimony trioxide and the metalworking fluid TRIM VX. Jon Mirsalis, Ph.D., from SRI International in Menlo Park, California, chaired the meeting.

NTP conducts mainly rodent studies on agents of public health concern, to identify potential human health hazards. The technical reports describe the methods, results, and NTP conclusions regarding levels of evidence for carcinogenic activity under the specific conditions of each study.

EPA Issues Draft Risk Assessment for Chemical used in Spray Adhesives, Dry Cleaning and Degreasing

Today, the U. S. Environmental protection Agency (EPA) released for public comment and peer review a draft risk assessment for 1-Bromopropane (1-BP) used in spray adhesives, dry cleaning (including spot cleaners) applications, and degreasing uses.

“This draft assessment will provide workers and consumers with critical information about the risks associated with using 1-BP in these applications,” said Jim Jones assistant administrator for the office of chemical safety and pollution prevention. “Public and scientific peer review is an integral piece to ensure we use the best available science in evaluating this chemical.”

The draft assessment of 1-BP, also known as n-propyl bromide, was conducted as part of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Work Plan assessment effort. The chemical showed acute risks to women of childbearing age from adverse developmental effects. Other non-cancer and cancer health risks were identified for workers with repeated and chronic exposures, including neurotoxicity, kidney, liver, and reproductive toxicity, and lung cancer.

In addition to EPA’s assessment, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued a draft criteria document for worker exposure to 1-BP, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) examined the hazards of 1-BP associated with different exposure durations. While each agency’s review has a distinct focus based on their mandates, they draw similar conclusions about the health hazards of 1-BP. The EPA, NIOSH, and ATSDR will continue to coordinate in addressing concerns associated with this chemical.

EPA recommends the public carefully follow product label directions and take precautions that can reduce exposures, such as using the product outside or in an extremely well ventilated area and wearing appropriate protective equipment to reduce exposure, particularly inhalation.

As EPA continues to support much needed reform of the nation’s chemicals management legislation, it continues to evaluate chemicals that may pose risks.

EPA is seeking public comment of this draft assessment for 60 days. The document is available at: www.regulations.gov docket number: EPA-HQ-OPPT-2015-0084 and will be peer reviewed by the EPA’s Chemical Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC) in the spring of 2016.

Additional information on the 1-BP draft Risk Assessment and other Work Plan Chemicals can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/assessments-tsca-work-plan-chemicals .

Does Long-Term Irrigation with Untreated Wastewater Accelerate the Dissipation of Pharmaceuticals in Soil?

Philipp Dalkmann, Christina Siebe, Wulf Amelung, Michael Schloter, and Jan Siemens (2014). “Does Long-Term Irrigation with Untreated Wastewater Accelerate the Dissipation of Pharmaceuticals in Soil?” Environmental Science & Technology 48 (9), 4963-4970. DOI: 10.1021/es501180x

Abstract: Long-term irrigation with untreated wastewater may increase soil microbial adaptation to pollution load and lead to enhanced natural attenuation. We hypothesized that long-term wastewater irrigation accelerates the dissipation of pharmaceuticals. To test our hypothesis we performed an incubation experiment with soils from the Mezquital Valley, Mexico that were irrigated for 0, 14, or 100 years. The results showed that the dissipation half-lives (DT50) of diclofenac (<0.1–1.4 days), bezafibrate (<0.1–4.8 days), sulfamethoxazole (2–33 days), naproxen (6–19 days), carbamazepine (355–1,624 days), and ciprofloxacin were not affected by wastewater irrigation. Trimethoprim dissipation was even slower in soils irrigated for 100 years (DT50: 45–72 days) than in nonirrigated soils (DT50: 12–16 days), was negatively correlated with soil organic matter content and soil-water distribution coefficients, and was inhibited in sterilized soils. Applying a kinetic fate model indicated that long-term irrigation enhanced sequestration of cationic or uncharged trimethoprim and uncharged carbamazepine, but did not affect sequestration of fast-dissipating zwitterions or negatively charged pharmaceuticals. We conclude that microbial adaptation processes play a minor role for pharmaceutical dissipation in wastewater-irrigated soils, while organic matter accumulation in these soils can retard trimethoprim and carbamazepine dissipation.

Strong Sorption of PCBs to Nanoplastics, Microplastics, Carbon Nanotubes, and Fullerenes

I. Velzeboer, C. J. A. F. Kwadijk, and A. A. Koelmans (2014). “Strong Sorption of PCBs to Nanoplastics, Microplastics, Carbon Nanotubes, and Fullerenes.” Environmental Science & Technology 48 (9), 4869-4876. DOI: 10.1021/es405721v.

Abstract: The presence of microplastic and carbon-based nanoparticles in the environment may have implications for the fate and effects of traditional hydrophobic chemicals. Here we present parameters for the sorption of 17 CB congeners to 10–180 μm sized polyethylene (micro-PE), 70 nm polystyrene (nano-PS), multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT), fullerene (C60), and a natural sediment in the environmentally relevant 10–5–10–1 μg L–1 concentration range. Effects of salinity and sediment organic matter fouling were assessed by measuring the isotherms in fresh- and seawater, with and without sediment present. Sorption to the “bulk” sorbents sediment organic matter (OM) and micro-PE occurred through linear hydrophobic partitioning with OM and micro-PE having similar sorption affinity. Sorption to MWCNT and nano-PS was nonlinear. PCB sorption to MWCNT and C60 was 3–4 orders of magnitude stronger than to OM and micro-PE. Sorption to nano-PS was 1–2 orders of magnitude stronger than to micro-PE, which was attributed to the higher aromaticity and surface–volume ratio of nano-PS. Organic matter effects varied among sorbents, with the largest OM fouling effect observed for the high surface sorbents MWCNT and nano-PS. Salinity decreased sorption for sediment and MWCNT but increased sorption for the polymers nano-PS and micro-PE. The exceptionally strong sorption of (planar) PCBs to C60, MWCNT, and nano-PS may imply increased hazards upon membrane transfer of these particles.