Undisclosed chemicals - implications for risk assessment: A case study from the mining industry

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Title: Undisclosed chemicals - implications for risk assessment: A case study from the mining industry
Authors: Singh, K
Oates, C
Plant, J
Voulvoulis, N
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Many of the chemicals used in industry can be hazardous to human health and the environment, and some formu-lations can have undisclosed ingredients and hazards, increasing the uncertainty of the risks posed by their use. Theneed for a better understanding of the extent of undisclosedinformation in chemicals arose from collecting data onthe hazards and exposures of chemicals used in typical mining operations (copper, platinum and coal). Four maincategories of undisclosed chemicals were defined (incomplete disclosure; chemicals with unspecific identities; rel-ative quantities of ingredients not stated; and trade secret ingredients) by reviewing material safety data sheet(MSDS) omissions in previous studies. A significant number of chemicals (20% of 957 different chemicals) acrossthe three sites had a range of undisclosed information, with majority of the chemicals (39%) having unspecificiden-tities. The majority of undisclosed information was found in commercially available motor oils followed by cleaningproducts and mechanical maintenance products, as opposed to reagents critical to the main mining processes. Allthree types of chemicals had trade secrets, unspecific chemical identities and incomplete disclosures. These typesof undisclosed information pose a hindrance to a full understanding of the hazards, which is made worse whencombined with additional MSDS omissions such as acute toxicity endpoints (LD50) and/or acute aquatic toxicityendpoints (LC50), as well as inadequate hazard classifications of ingredients. The communication of the hazard in-formation in the MSDSs varied according to the chemical type, the manufacturer and the regulations governing theMSDSs. Undisclosed information can undermine occupational health protection, compromise the safety of workersin industry, hinder risk assessment procedures and cause uncertainty about future health. It comes down to theduty of care that industries have towards their employees. With a wide range of chemicals increasingly used,there is a balance that needs to be reached between disclosure requirements, trade secret provisions and definitionsof hazardous ingredients for market needs, and the information required to protect the health of their workers.
Issue Date: 1-Jul-2014
Date of Acceptance: 28-Feb-2014
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/67875
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2014.02.012
ISSN: 0160-4120
Publisher: Elsevier
Start Page: 1
End Page: 15
Journal / Book Title: Environment International
Volume: 68
Copyright Statement: © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This manuscript is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Environmental Sciences
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Mining chemicals
Undisdosed ingredients
Inaccurate material safety data sheets
Undisclosed ingredients
Coal Mining
Environmental Exposure
Environmental Pollutants
Hazardous Substances
Occupational Health
Public Health
Risk Assessment
MD Multidisciplinary
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2014-03-28
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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