Safety, Health and Envionment
EU Shortlists US-made Hazardous Chemicals
The European Union (EU) has identified 16 chemicals that are produced in the US as “substances of very high concern”. These dangerous chemicals have been identified through the EU’s 2007 Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) law, which requires the disclosure of all chemicals sold in the EU in quantities of more than one metric tonne per year. In coming years, the REACH law will require that companies prove the safety of a given chemical before it is allowed to be sold. Those chemicals deemed dangerous due to associated human health risks will only be sold with special government permission. The US manufactures more than one billion pounds (455 million kg) of 14 potential REACH-listed chemicals, 85 more are made in quantities exceeding one million pounds (455,000 kg), which have already been regulated in the EU in certain cases. BASF, Chemtura, Dow, DuPont and Equistar make most of these suspect chemicals in the US. Some of the most commonly produced dangerous chemicals include benzene, formaldehyde, styrene, hexane and butadiene.
New Method to Convert E-waste
With the problem of electronic (e)-waste growing in magnitude, Zhenming Xu and his colleagues at Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China have developed a new recycling method that makes a strong construction material out of discarded printed circuit boards (PCBs). PCBs account for about 3% by weight of all e-waste, according to Xu. Although metals from the circuit boards, such as copper and aluminum, are recycled, for treatingnon-metallic materials in PCBs, landfill disposal is the primary method as they are difficult to recycle. The new process pulverises the non-metallic parts of the circuit boards, adds a little resin, then hot presses them into usable plates. Being almost as strong as reinforced concrete, the recycled material makes a good substitute for wood that could be used for making sewer grates, fences and park benches, the researchers claim.
Greenhouse Gases: New Angle to Global Warming
A new research project funded by NASA has found that nitrogen trifluoride is a thousand times more potent in warming the atmosphere than an equal amount of CO2. This is despite the fact that CO2 is much more prevalent and, therefore, still the key greenhouse gas behind global warming. In 2006, the amount of nitrogen trifluoride in the atmosphere, which could not be detected using previously available techniques, was estimated at less than 1,200 metric tonnes. According to the newly developed method, about 5,400 metric tonnes of nitrogen trifluoride is estimated to be in the atmosphere. The estimates indicate that the amount of gas in the atmosphere is increasing by about 11% per year. Nitrogen trifluoride is about 17,000 times more powerful at trapping heat than is CO2. However, current emissions of the gas only contribute about 0.04% of the total global warming