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MA Dry Cleaners asked to Reduce Use of the Chlorinated Solvent Perc


The Massachsusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) recently announced the implementation of what will initially be a voluntary program to reduce the amount of the toxic chemical perchloroethylene, also know as Perc.  If the voluntary program does not yield significant reductions in four years, the reductions and the program will then become mandatory.

Perc is a chlorinated solvent that the US Dept. of Health and Human Services has named as a likely carcinogen to humans.  The program will encourage the use of safer alternatives to perc, and will be reflected in the dry cleaners annual compliance certifications, which are regulated by MA DEP through the federal Clean Air Act.

As part of  the program, there will be voluntary “comparative analysis” that will help dry cleaners understand and compare the benefits and costs, including risks of and alternatives to perc. The plan also outlines a process by which goals for perchloroethylene use will be set to encourage an accelerated rate of reductions, and the voluntary comparative analysis will become mandatory if the goals are not met.

To read more about the program and the announcement, you can read the state's press release here.

To learn more about Norfolk Ram's environmental remediation services and dealing with or alternatives to the use of Perc, visit our webpage or contact Charles Young at (508) 747-7900 extension 126.

Landmark agreement on Dioxins contamination cleanup


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently reached an agreement with the Dow Chemical Company to clean up to 1,500 residential properites contaminated with dioxins in Midland Michigan, home of its manufacturing plant and corporate headquarters.  The agreement proposes an action level of 250 parts per trillion of dioxins in the residential soils.  The action level is set in accordance with EPA's approved risk assessment procedures, and their recent announcement setting a safe level of exposure for TCDD, a potent congener.

Soil sampling will begin in June for the project, and the program will also offer relocation support to people who rent affected homes, should the homeowner not choose to participate in the program. As an extra effort, Dow says it is also offering to purchase approximately 50 homes and lots located within the industrial and commercially zoned area noted in the cleanup agreement.

For more information of Dioxins or soil and groundwater contamination, contact Brian V. Moran, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 189 or (508) 309-4793.

Information in this post taken from an article entitled "Michigan, Dow Agree on Cleanup" by Glenn Hess, on Page 7 of the February 27, 2012 edition of Chemical & Engineering News.

EPA sets safe level of exposure to Dioxins


The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that is has established a safe level of exposure to the most toxic form of dioxin.  The daily dose is set at 0.7 picograms of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) per kilogram of body weight.  TCDD is the most toxic congener of the dioxins, which are unintentional by-products of manufacturing processes involving chlorine and the burning of waste or biomass.

Currently in the U.S. backyard waste burning is the highest source of dioxins.  People are exposed to dioxins mostly by eating poultry, dairy, fish or eggs. EPA claims that "most Americans have only low-level exposure to dioxins" and that this "does not pose a significant health risk."

Information for this post was taken from the February 27, 2012 issue of Chemical and Engineering News, edited by William G. Schulz and Sophia L. Cai.


EPAs Modified Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule


Entities that manufacture (defined as byproduct or import) chemical substances for commercial purposes, produced in volumes of 25,000 lbs or more, at a site during the principal reporting year may be required to report.  The EPA is currently providing "additional information on byproduct reporting” and the scope of the CDR obligation to report.

 The 2012 CDC submission period is scheduled to occur from February 1, 2012 to June 30, 2012. Such submission should report 2011 manufacturing, processing and use, as well as 2010 production volume information. After this 2012 reporting, the submission period shifts to June 1 to September 30, at four-year intervals, beginning in 2016.

 Submitters are required to use e-CDR web, which is EPA's electronic reporting tool.

 If you have any question about EPAs Modified Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule, please contact Mark Bartlett, PE, TURP at (508) 941-2190.

Source: Pollution Engineering, October 2011

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EPA’ efforts to identify priority chemicals


Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started to study commercial chemicals. The agency continues searching for priority chemicals using an intelligent and effective selection process.

The interest in chemical substances began in 2009 and the EPA came up with 11 action plans to address controversial chemicals or classes of substances including phthalates and perfluorinated compounds.

The EPA then went into detail to find other priority chemicals. Regulations may be created for these chemicals if necessary. EPA’s goal is to identify and select these new substances by the end of 2011 and to review and assess them in 2012.

To do so, the EPA created a two-step process.

                The first step aims at identifying substances that could become priority chemicals. To choose the substances to study, the EPA will first look if a chemical meets one of the “six factors”. These factors qualify chemicals according to their nature.

The six factors are:

  • Is the chemical linked to adverse reproductive or developmental effects
  • Is the substance persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic
  • Is it a know or possible carcinogen
  • Is it found in children’s products
  • Is it found in consumer’s products
  • Is it detected in human blood, urine, or tissue in biomonitoring programs

Then, the agency will use data from other government agencies such as the National Toxicology Program or the International Agency for Research or Cancer, as well as from its own Integrated Risk Information System and from chemical manufacturers.

                The second step will enable the EPA to examine in detail the substances found out in the first step. These substances will be ranked according to their risk – those with the greatest risk will be at the top- in order to keep the effort focused on chemicals of high concern.

The EPA felt the need to gather suggestions and advice from representatives of the chemical industry and health advocacy groups about the priority chemicals selecting process. Therefore the agency planned and conducted 7 webinars that were very useful.

The most relevant ideas that came out from these webinar were:

  • To have a precise selection right at the first step by adding selecting factors. It will enable the EPA to identify more chemicals.
  • To include substances that can cause damage to the nervous system.
  • To consider the production volume of a substance in its exposure. In fact, studying production volumes may lead to better estimates of exposure. The two main things to know about a chemical are its hazard and its exposure information.
  • To publish the criteria used in order to make this selection process easier for people to understand
  • To work with other regulatory agencies involved in chemical assessment such as the European Chemical Agency
  • To use what the state regulators have done on chemicals

The American Chemistry Council (ACC, a trade association of chemical manufacturers) suggested another methodology in selecting priority chemicals. This methodology is a tool that gives scores to chemicals based to their toxicity and their potential for exposure. It will enable EPA to evaluate the toxicity of a compound by studying its structure –activity relationship. If hazard data is lacking for a chemical, the ranking tool will automatically give it a high hazard ranking. If the EPA chooses to use this methodology, chemical manufacturers will have incentive to give the Agency the information relative to the toxicity of their products. The interest of this tool is to determine in an easiest way which substances should undergo review first.    

The ACC methodology could be an interesting and effective means for the EPA and its selection process for priority chemical. However, the agency has not given its opinion on ACC’s proposal yet.


If you have any question about priority chemicals, or need assistance with environmental exposures to chemicals, please call Brian Moran, P.E., LSP, at (508) 747 – 7900 x 189.

Information in this article taken from Sept 19, 2011 article by Cheryl Hogue, C&EN Washington

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