Richard Angiullo, a vice president and general manager at DuPont, maker of the Teflon brand fluoropolymers, said PFOA has been in unregulated use for 50 years.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont now is the only U.S.-based manufacturer of fluoropolymers. 3M Co., headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., phased out their manufacture between 2000 and 2002. DuPont, Germany-based Clariant GmbH, Japan's Daikin Industries and Asahi Glass Inc. all make telomers, which could break down or degrade to form PFOA in the environment.
Companies back study
EPA has embarked on a process to enter into an enforceable consent agreement (ECA) with major fluoropolymer manufacturers. Under the ECA, the companies would agree to generate data about PFOA and telomers and submit them to EPA on a specified schedule. No such agreement is yet in place, however.
Angiullo said DuPont agreed to provide data for the study, and the company shares EPA's concerns about safeguarding human health and the environment and respects "the position that there are still questions to be answered."
Other companies and organizations signing the ECA include the Society of the Plastics Industry, the Telomer Research Program, 3M, Aga Chemicals., Asahi Glass Fluoropolymer USA Inc., Clariant GmbH, Daiken America Inc.and Dyneon LLC.
Chemical Accident Coincides with Mouse Abnormalities
CLEVELAND ," A handler's use of the wrong cleaner at a genetics laboratory damaged mouse cages and might be linked to a sudden increase in chromosome abnormalities noted in the animals.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), scientists at a Case Western University genetics laboratory and associated animal research center noted deterioration in a mouse colony's semi-rigid plastic cages after a handler used a harsh detergent to clean them. The cages' plastic then released small amounts of bisphenol A. The researchers believe the low-level exposure led to the "highly significant" increases subsequently observed in the mice's developing eggs.
Patricia A. Hunt, Ph.D., who works in the Department of Genetics at the Cleveland-based university, stated in an NIEHS-supported report that the sudden increase in abnormalities occurred in a mouse colony used as a control group. "We suspected it might be caused by something environmental," she said, "so for several weeks we looked for an explanation ," especially for any recent changes in the lab."
After confirming the bisphenol A accident, said NIEHS, the researchers deliberately exposed mice to small amounts of the chemical. Once again, they found the eggs to exhibit high rates of two chromosome abnormalities. The types of abnormalities identified are the leading causes of miscarriages, congenital defects and mental retardation in humans, added NIEHS.
"We don't know what the effects, if any, may be on humans at these low levels," cautioned Dr. Hunt. "Certainly we should be concerned enough to carry out extensive further study," she added.
Bisphenol A is used in the manufacture of many different plastics.
Taking the Pain out of Process Development
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario ," Paul Szabo, laboratory manager for the scale-up engineering lab at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, has a message he wants to share: He has perfected an unconventional approach to chemical process development that promises to save you time, money and more than a little frustration.
Traditionally, said Szabo, chemical process development involves three steps: lab research, scale-up and manufacturing plant design. Each step requires a different set of experts ," from chemists to chemical engineers to designers. Each of these specialists not only must document all aspects of his or her work, but also somehow must transfer that knowledge to the experts involved in the next step.
"This is a time-consuming and, by definition, imperfect method," Szabo told Chemical Processing. "And you cannot really transfer information into one brain from another," he emphasized.
Szabo uses a multidisciplinary team to accomplish process development. The chemist, chemical engineer and design engineer are involved in the process from beginning to end, he explained, making knowledge transfer and truckloads of documentation unnecessary.
Of course, Szabo noted, it typically would be much easier for a large organization to loan out the personnel necessary to implement this approach than it would be for a small facility. In addition, he stressed, "the model has to be adopted to reality" ," meaning the approach taken with small-volume/high-value chemical processes should differ from those taken with large-volume/lower-value processes.
By using a multidisciplinary team approach, Szabo said facilities can slash research and development time by a factor of two. "Time is money," he emphasized.
The approach, however, is just half of Szabo's winning process-development plan. He also improves the development cycle by going straight from the laboratory to a virtual manufacturing design, which usually is a pencil and paper rendering.
"Once we have the virtual design," said Szabo, "we scale it down to the pilot plant." What results is an accurate design that catches problems a scale-up would not.
Szabo believes many facilities could benefit by combining his two approaches. Although the approaches require more human resources during a project's duration, the project itself will be much shorter and successful. With the traditional approach, added Szabo, "the company will pay for it later on many times over."
To learn more about Szabo's methods, contact him via e-mail at paul.szabo @crt.xerox.com.