All Published Articles
Synthetic biology is delivering on its promise as an emerging scientific field in providing society with effective new sustainable products in diverse areas including renewable energy, contamination remediation, and medical applications, among others. As is the case with any rapidly evolving technology, the pace of technological innovation challenges regulators’ ability to identify and address adequately the substantial uncertainties they confront when discharging their legal obligations under controlling laws to ensure human and environmental safety. This article provides a brief description of synthetic biology, discusses the current domestic regulatory framework that governs the regulation of products of synthetic biology, and focuses narrowly on options and opportunities the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), innovators in the area of synthetic biology, and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)-regulated community at large may wish to consider to enhance TSCA’s core adaptive capacity to identify and address potential health and environmental risk implications posed by the commercialization of products of synthetic biology.
On July 31, 2014, EPA published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking information and data on potential revisions to its Clean Air Act (CAA) Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations and related programs. In the RFI, EPA asks for information on specific regulatory elements and on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Process Safety Management (PSM) approaches, the public and environmental health and safety risks they address, and the costs and burdens they may impose. This column explains why this RFI is critically important to the RMP and PSM programs and thus to Pollution Engineering readers.
On August 9, 2014, Canada published a proposal for adopting the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS compliance is a big issue for just about all manufacturers, and understanding the approach of our neighbor to the north is important. This column summarizes the highlights.
The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) announced in the September 8, 2014, Federal Register that it will hold a technical interchange meeting entitled "Realizing the Promise of Carbon Nanotubes -- Challenges, Opportunities and the Pathway to Commercialization" on September 15, 2014. See http://nano.gov/2014CNTTechInterchange The meeting is sponsored by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and co-sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). According to the notice, the objectives of the meeting are to identify, discuss, and report the technical barriers preventing the production of carbon nanotube-based materials with electrical and mechanical properties approaching theoretical values, and to explore ways to overcome these barriers.
The EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) has concluded that there is adequate evidence for lowering the existing National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone (O3) from 75 parts per billion to between 70 ppb and 60 ppb. The recommendation is found in a 600 page long Policy Assessment for the Review of the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, issued on Aug. 29, 2014.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has stepped up its enforcement initiatives and recently settled two cases with companies that market plastic lumber and related products. FTC alleged that these companies misled consumers in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act in their marketing materials regarding the environmental attributes of their products.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) will host a nanotechnology regulation symposium on October 28, 2014. See http://apvma.gov.au/node/11191 APVMA states that it "has worked over many years to progressively develop a regulatory framework for nanoscale agvet chemicals and chemical products." APVMA intends the symposium to provide industry and regulators with an opportunity for dialogue on the future regulation of nanopesticides and veterinary nanomedicines.
Nano product registries in Europe are the newest twist to satiating the public’s relentless “right to know.” Nominally intended to prevent hazards, facilitate monitoring, and promote consumer choice, nano product registries also risk stigmatizing nano products, diverting limited government and private resources, and potentially creating commercial barriers to a promising technology. This article in the American Bar Association’s Natural Resources & Environment magazine focuses on efforts of multiple European countries that are presently at varying stages of establishing product registries to keep track of nanomaterials and the products that contain them. After outlining the stated purposes of these registries and explaining how they operate, the article explores whether they are achieving their stated goals or inadvertently inviting unintended consequences.
On August 1, 2014, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which falls under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), published an important proposed rule intended to improve the safety of transportation of large quantities of flammable materials by rail — particularly crude oil and ethanol. The proposal responds to several catastrophic railcar derailments, all involving crude oil and resulting in fatalities. The DOT also issued on the same day a companion Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR).
On June 19, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a direct final rule exempting manufacturers of three chemical substances from certain reporting-process-and-use information requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule for those compounds. This column discusses the rule and the potential value of public petitioning.