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Apr 072010

From Green Right Now Reports

The EPA  has proposed adding 16 chemicals that the agency considers eligible to become “reportable chemicals” to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) list — including some that wind up on smoked or grilled foods or in the air around incineration facilities.

Inclusion in the toxics registry means that companies and industries using these compounds would have to disclose that they are using them, and how they are disposing of them, to the EPA, which in turn makes the information public. (See the TRI Explorer tool on the EPA website.)

The TRI list exists to help  insure the safety of the public and the environment from needless or excessive exposure to chemicals used in industry. It was set up after industrial accidents, such as the Bhopal chemical leak of methyl isocyanate that killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India, according to the EPA history.

The chemicals on the new list were selected for inclusion because they are likely carcinogens. Four of the 16 are polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), which are also known in many cases as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and include “chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic (PBT) and are likely to remain in the environment for a very long time,” according to the EPA.

PACs  “are not readily destroyed and may build up or accumulate in body tissue”.

People are exposed to these particular PACs, or PAHs, by breathing contaminated smoke or by eating grilled meats or other food with residue from smoke or incinerated coal or wood.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that humans can be exposed these ways:

  • Breathing air containing PAHs in the workplace of coking, coal-tar, and asphalt production plants; smokehouses; and municipal trash incineration facilities.
  • Breathing air containing PAHs from cigarette smoke, wood smoke, vehicle exhausts, asphalt roads, or agricultural burn smoke.
  • Coming in contact with air, water, or soil near hazardous waste sites.
  • Eating grilled or charred meats; contaminated cereals, flour, bread, vegetables, fruits, meats; and processed or pickled foods.

The Toxics Release Inventory includes nearly 650 chemicals at use at more than 22,000 industrial facilities in the U.S.; so this new group of chemicals would be part of a long list of potentially harmful chemicals that the federal government tracks.

The list of 16 being proposed for inclusion on the Toxic Release Inventory will be considered during a 60-day public comment period. The proposed new chemicals are:

  • 1-Amino-2-4-dibromoanthraquinone
  • 2,2-bis(Bromethyl)-1-3-propanediol
  • Furan
  • Glycidol
  • Isoprene
  • Methyleugenol
  • o-Nitroanisole
  • Nitromethane
  • Phenolphthalein
  • Tetrafluoroethylene
  • Tetranitromethane
  • VinylFluoride
  • 1,6-Dinitropyrene
  • 1,8-Dinitropyrene
  • 6-Nitrochrysene
  • 4-Nitropyrene