Hazards 60, page
4, October-December 1997
are opting for
Toxics Use Reduction
goes down on toxins
A company's profits
and even its survival might depend on dropping workplace and environmental
toxins, Hazards has found. Toxics Use Reduction is good for workers
and good for business.
or phase-out of toxics and their replacement with less harmful
substances, processes or products is the key to Toxics Use Reduction
The technique was
pioneered in Massachusetts, USA, which introduced the first sunsetting
legislation, the Toxics Use Reduction Act 1989 (TURA).
The Act says TUR
is: "In plant changes in production processes or raw materials
that reduce, avoid, or eliminate the use of toxic or hazardous
substances or generation of hazardous by-products per unit of
product, so as to reduce risks between workers, consumers or parts
of the environment without shifting risks between workers, consumers
or parts of the environment."
substances and their toxic by-products are identified on a phase
out list. Several hundred chemicals, including many metals, pesticides
and solvents still in common usage in the UK, are on the Massachusetts
list - creosote, malathion, carbaryl, lindane, chromic acid, chromium,
lead, nickel, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone
(MEK), styrene, vinyl chloride.
The law worked. Between
1990 and 1995 firms in the state reduced hazardous waste by 30
per cent and the use of toxic chemicals by 20 per cent, improved
their efficiency and saved millions of dollars in operating costs
as a result.
In 1990, the year
TURA took effect, only 30 per cent of firms subject to the law
were considering changes in production processes for health, safety
and environmental reasons. By 1996, this had grown to 76 per cent
Two-thirds of firms
(67 per cent) pocketed cash savings through toxics reduction with
a similar proportion (66 per cent) reporting "improvements
in worker health and safety."
According to TURA
Reports, the newsletter of the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction
Institute: "Overall, the benefits of the program exceed the
costs - $91 million to $77 million - not including human health,
environmental improvements and other difficult to estimate benefits."
Other similar systems
have been introduced both by statutory and non-governmental organisations
in the US and Canada. US states Oregon and New Jersey both have
in toxics use reduction and pollution prevention: Massachusetts
Toxics Use Reduction Program, Technical Report No.30. TURI. 1996.
TURA Reports newsletter,
Volume 1, No.1. TURI. Spring 1997.
A report of the findings of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction
program evaluation. TURI. March 1997.
All from: Massachusetts
Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), University of Massachusetts,
Lowell, MA 01854, USA. Tel: 00 1 508 934 3346 or 00 1 508 934
TURI website: http://www.turi.org
of metallic alloys: A proposal for special concentration limits.
White Paper. A paper prepared on behalf of the European Industry
Metals and Alloys Classification Group (EIMAC), for the EU expert
meeting to be held in Brussels on November 18/19 1996. October
Also see: Toxics
Use Reduction. Hazards 53, Winter 1995/1996.
Trade unions wanting help putting together toxics use reduction
programmes in the UK can get it from Professor Andy Watterson
at Stirling University
Not entirely stainless steel
Recent experience in the metals industry shows how companies can
lose out if they don't clear out their toxic substances. Their
customers might leave them behind.
A briefing prepared
by the European Industry Metals and Alloys Classification Group
(EIMAC) noted with alarm official concern about the possible lung
cancer risk of exposure to common metals including nickel, a constituent
of stainless steel.
In a section on the
"marketplace impact of classification" EIMAC noted:
"Because of this nickel content stainless steels become classified
as skin sensitisers and suspect carcinogens... resulting in very
serious threats to the stainless steel industry."
EIMAC added that
Ford has listed stainless steel on its restricted substances list
and Chrysler had targeted nickel-containing materials including
stainless steels for elimination or reduction by January 1997.
And Mercedes Benz plans to develop a stainless steel vehicle body
had been dropped. "This company has now decided to eliminate
nickel-containing stainless steels from the project because of
their classification of suspect carcinogens," said EIMAC.
company itself does not regard the materials as posing any risk
in the workplace or in the environment, it is concerned about
adverse reactions from the press, the trades unions and the public,
arising from the stigma of carcinogenic classification, which
could fatally undermine the project."
White goods manufacturer
Whirlpool had decided to eliminate stainless steel constituents
nickel and chromium where suitable alternatives are available.