Friday, February 13, 2009

River Keepers

An EU-wide survey on The State of Our Rivers has just been released and is quite notable. Among the many chemical groups identified by the study, the presence of molecules from prescriptive drugs and personal care products stood out. This isn't just happening overseas. The EPA has conducted similar studies and similar results. For example, in Las Vegas waterways the agency discovered a measurable presence of meta-amphetamines!

The Green Nose blog wants to bring out a point made on an earlier post, Green Chemistry and the Current Industry Position, that the fragrance industry stood by environmental toxicity data that was generated from several decades worth of "quantitative risk analysis." This EU survey does report that the amount of toxic chemicals decreased in rural areas which had less storm drain or sewer run-off. Therefore the only valid aquatic toxicity data that is acceptable is "hazard based" which is representative of the population centers.

What might be a difference in USA rivers for comparative survey results? Here in my new home state Oregon very little. Portland, long considered a European-like city, has built something identical; that is a combined sewer/storm water system. Atlanta, my previous residence is slowly changing from the same system as is NYC. Paris has the most famous combined system, Les Égouts de Paris. None-the-less, all kinds of sewer systems seem to be overwhelmed after a large storm.

Sewers are an important part of our society. They serve to promote public health, protect the environment and support economic growth within our communities. Sewers also happen to provide a unique view into everyday life known as sewer sociology. Contrary to popular concepts, sewer treatment facilities regardless of the treatment methods, do not remove household chemicals.

Yesterday, OPB's "Think Out Loud" had a segment on greenwashing and discussion for the need to define sustainability and green for all the products or lifestyle choices. The terms are often confused, made interchangeable, and abused. One listener made a simple delineation. Sustainability is the economy, green is the biology.

Today, we find that the USA's infrastructure funding is bankrupt. Completely. And the unseen chemical elements that are underground are off any priority rescue landscape. To act socially responsible and sustainable, we should continue the good efforts of the EPA's Design for the Environment. DfE which has sound scientific environmental survey data to prove that we must prevent the use of chemicals of concern and replace them with near equal performing chemicals for the public health and to protect the environment. Just starting with cleaners that are rinsed off down the drain is preventatively comparative to reducing auto emissions. Not the end all but a significant improvement.

The Green Nose supports the upcoming fragrance ingredient module which is now under final review this month and will be presented to the entire Fragrance industry this June at the Sustainable Fragrance for Cleaning Products conference. The module will not include many of the materials that produce wonderful, loud, long lasting ultra trendy fragrance accords because they are persistent or toxic. What remains are attractive impactful fresh clean green materials that will mask the unpleasant base odors and make the cleaners appealing and safer for the professional and consumer user and protect our waterways.

We just need to get all of the cleaning product manufacturers to place in the continuum sound green chemistry when improvements are available. It they do not, then they are greenwashing and inexcusable after June 2009.

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