Gradient

Evolving Issues

We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of emerging risk assessment issues. Below we feature information on some evolving issues and related resources.

Perfluorinated Compounds

Perfluorinated Compounds

Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), including prefluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), are undergoing scrutiny due to their potential properties to  accumulate in humans and ecosystems.  Scientists are studying the data regarding these chemicals in an attempt to make focused and quantitative assessments for health advisories, use and disposal practices, and remediation.  Legal and regulatory attention, with the potential for widespread impacts, is expected to continue in the near- and long-term.

Skin Sensitization Risk Assessment

Skin Sensitization Risk Assessment

The ability of chemicals in consumer products to cause allergic reactions is receiving increased attention from both regulatory agencies and product manufacturers.  For example, several chemical "skin sensitizers" have been designated substances of very high concern (SVHC) by the European Chemicals Agency.  Allergic contact dermatitis caused by chemicals is the second most common occupational illness in the US, accounting for 10-15% of all such illnesses reported.  Consumer-level exposures to skin sensitizers are also expected to result in 15-20% of the general population becoming sensitized to at least one chemical allergen during their lifetime.  Once an individual has been sensitized to a particular chemical, their increased sensitivity to it may last for years, causing them to react to lower exposures to that chemical than a non-sensitized individual.  The persistent nature of this health effect has lead to the increasing concern.

Read the European Commission proposal to restrict the use of the preservative methylisothiazolone

Federal Coal Ash Rule Compliance

Federal Coal Ash Rule Compliance

US EPA's publication of the Final Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Disposal Rule on April 17, 2015 initiated a new era of coal ash regulation.  A key focus of the CCR Rule is the regulation of unlined surface impoundments (SIs), an issue that has gained public attention in response to high-profile CCR releases from several SIs and the results of the US EPA coal combustion waste risk assessment.  The CCR Rule stipulates that all existing SIs and new landfills must comply with groundwater quality requirements and other technical criteria related to safety risks, structural integrity, location, and depth to groundwater.  SIs that fail to comply with the CCR Rule's technical requirements must either close or retrofit.  Coal-fired utilities are currently working to determine optimal closure options, explore continued beneficial reuse of CCR, and address citizen suits, which have become the default enforcement mechanism for the CCR Rule. 

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

The issue of endocrine disruption has become an important focus of scientific study and is receiving increased scrutiny by the media, the public, and regulators.  For example, screening of potential endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) has started in the US, under US EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, and regulatory initiatives are underway at the state level (i.e., CA), in the EU (under REACH), and in Japan.  These initiatives are expected to result in further regulation of EDCs.

Read about Gradient's attendance at the SETAC Pellston Workshop on Endocrine Disrupting Substances.

Next Generation Risk Assessment

Next Generation Risk Assessment

Innovations in test methodologies and efforts spurring large-scale chemical testing programs  (e.g., the US Tox21 and European REACH programs) are transforming the types and amounts of data available to support chemical risk assessment.  These changes offer new opportunities – and challenges – for better understanding the potential health and ecological risks posed by chemical exposures.  For example, the role of gene-environment interactions in disease susceptibility has received increased scrutiny as new testing tools, test program results, and risk assessment applications have become available. 

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic Fracturing

Concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing have focused on potential environmental and human health implications of the chemical additives used in the process.  Recent scientific research has shed light on a variety of these issues and helped separate fact from fiction in this complex, multidisciplinary field.