Predicting health risks of everyday chemicals

October 16, 2013

Concern over the safety of everyday household products, such as baby bottles and soaps, has spurred a wide-ranging research effort into predicting the health risks of tens of thousands of chemicals. That's the topic of the cover story in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Britt E. Erickson, C&EN senior editor, points out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with overseeing the of chemicals in consumer products. It's a monumental task—an estimated 80,000 chemicals are on the market in some form, whether in plastics, detergents, electronics or other items. But the agency is not alone in its efforts to understand chemicals' hazards and people's exposure to them. It relies on multiple sources to investigate risks. In addition to its own computer programs that model toxicity and levels of human exposure, the EPA is weaving together massive amounts of data on consumer buying trends, as well as data from various laboratory tests.

The article points out that while a concerted push is underway, much remains to be done. Getting a handle on the levels of chemicals people are actually exposed to is in its infancy. Holes remain in understanding the science of toxicity—for example, scientists haven't fully explored the molecular pathways involved in brain development and where chemicals might derail it.

Explore further: EPA issues list of high volume chemicals

More information: "Getting Real about Chemical Risks", cen.acs.org/articles/91/i41/Getting-Real-Chemical-Risks.html

Related Stories

'Sweet' chemicals from a 'green' raw material

September 19, 2012

The biobased world's traditional focus on producing fuels for cars, trucks and aircraft is quietly undergoing a major transition this summer toward production of chemicals needed for manufacture of hundreds of different consumer ...

A new sense of urgency for energy cane and other energy crops

August 14, 2013

"Energy cane" may sound like a trendy sports drink, but it actually is among a new generation of energy crops that could yield up to 5 times more ethanol per acre than corn. They are the topic of the cover story in this week's ...

EPA suggests safer flame retardants

September 26, 2013

(HealthDay)—Safer alternatives to a toxic flame retardant chemical are presented in a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Recommended for you

Findings illuminate animal evolution in protein function

July 27, 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond researchers recently teamed up to explore the inner workings of cells and shed light on the 400–600 million years of evolution between humans and early animals ...

New polymer able to store energy at higher temperatures

July 30, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University has created a new polymer that is able to store energy at higher temperatures than conventional polymers without breaking down. In their paper published ...

How to look for a few good catalysts

July 30, 2015

Two key physical phenomena take place at the surfaces of materials: catalysis and wetting. A catalyst enhances the rate of chemical reactions; wetting refers to how liquids spread across a surface.

Yarn from slaughterhouse waste

July 29, 2015

ETH researchers have developed a yarn from ordinary gelatine that has good qualities similar to those of merino wool fibers. Now they are working on making the yarn even more water resistant.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.