What topic are you interested in?

Subscribe | About | Help

< All Topics

Chemicals Coffee Time Monthly, September 2022

Dear Friend,

Happy Friday!

Well, what a month September was, particularly for those of us living in the UK. Queen Elizabeth II died on the 8th, and we went into mourning until after her funeral on the 19th. It was a most extraordinary time, as we took stock of how she had served the country, and marvelled at the beauty of the ceremonies and precision of the arrangements.

In the meantime, it was business as usual for the rest of the world, including a very big announcement from the EC. But we’ll start with a horrifying example of misleading labelling.

Possible one of the most misleading labels for a chemical product anywhere

You may have seen this photograph of a bleach bottle next to a strawberry yoghurt drink, see https://www.linkedin.com/posts/alangilbody_brandde….

No alt text provided for this image

(Original photo Steve Zebrowski, sent via James Coates and posted by Alan Gilbody).

Interestingly, you can’t see the cap on the bleach bottle, as presumably that does look different from the yoghurt drink, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the labels and bottle size appear to be very similar. I’ve asked the original poster where this was taken from, and although they’ve not replied directly, according to other commenters, it may be Malaysia.

Here in the UK (and also in the EU), this situation is covered very clearly under the CLP regulation, Title IV, Packaging, Article 35 Packaging, number 2. (It’s the same references in both GB-CLP and EU-CLP).

“Packaging containing a hazardous substance or a mixture supplied to the general public shall not have either a shape or design likely to attract or arouse the active curiosity of children or to mislead consumers, or have a similar presentation or a design used for foodstuff or animal feeding stuff or medicinal or cosmetic products, which would mislead consumers”. (my bold and italics).

I cannot find an equivalent phrase within GHS, so presumably the similar presentation or design of the bleach container is permissible under local laws, wherever that photograph was taken. However, just because it’s permissible legally doesn’t make it morally right, or within the spirit of Responsible Care https://icca-chem.org/focus/responsible-care/.

Alison Potts comments that GHS only covers industrial and workplace products in Malaysia, so if that is where this image is from, then local consumer regulations would definitely apply.

Proposed new hazard classes in the EU

The big news I mentioned is that the European Commission have proposed 4 new hazard classes under CLP:

  • PBT and vPvB
  • PMT and vPvM
  • Endocrine disruptors to human health
  • Endocrine disruptors to the environment

Many thanks to Aaron Mcloughlin of FleishmanHillard and Darren Abrahams of Steptoe & Johnson LLP for highlighting this very important set of proposals on LinkedIn.

You can find the EC proposals here: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/tbt/en/search/?tbtaction=search.detail&Country_ID=EU&num=915&dspLang=en&basdatedeb=&basdatefin=&baspays=&basnotifnum=&basnotifnum2=&baskeywords=1272%2F2008&bastypepays=ANY&baskeywords=1272%2F2008 and https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/tbt/en… .

Rather cheekily, the EU have also taken these new hazard classifications to the UNECE GHS committee, and are suggesting that the rest of the world adopt them too. I suspect they may get some push back on this suggestion.

To work through the situation as it currently stands, Alison and I have made a couple of videos going into details of what these proposals mean, and what actions you might want to take as a result, see https://www.ghsclassificationcourses.com/proposed-… (this page is available publicly); or you can find them here on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/posts/janet-greenwood_2022-09-21-new-eu-hazard-classes-pbt-and-activity-6978632814636244993-93Zd (first we discuss PBT/vPvB and PMT/vPvM), and https://www.linkedin.com/posts/janet-greenwood_2022-09-21-new-eu-hazard-classes-endocrine-activity-6978738776244117504-Hdjq (discussing Endocrine disruptors for both health and environment)

Briefly, if you don’t like the EU’s suggestions (particularly on endocrine disruptors, where the science doesn’t really exist in a lot of situations), then you should make representations to them, and remember there’s only a 4 week window to do this, which finishes on 18th October 2022.

However, you should not use these proposed hazard classifications yet, because they are only proposals and may not come into effect at all, or they may be modified heavily, so wait until they are published before taking action. The second reason is that the proposals include a very long implementation period before they would need to be brought in.

As you might expect, there have been quite a few discussions on this issue:

Chris Hughes of Ricardo plc writes on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/posts/chris-hughes-321b45… “These (PBT/vPvB and PMT/vPvM) are highly complex assessments, and I suspect it will be very challenging to implement them under the CLP regulation. There is a reason there is an entire expert group at ECHA devoted to them!“. Which begs the question – is it sensible to put the burden on identifying these chemicals onto industry? Surely it would be better done at Competent Authority level, at least to start with? Chris has also recently authored a CEFIC report on Persistence, which you can find here: https://cefic-lri.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/ECO52-WP2A-Difficult-Substances-GD-final.pdf

Anne-Christine Macherey of CNRS Prévention du risque chimique  commented on LinkedIn below the first video, asking about whether a substance can be PBT and vPvB, as it’s not clear in the EC explanatory memorandum. Alison replied that there have been some substances already classified as both PBT and vPvB under REACH, so this is possible, although the new EUH statements would be very clumsy if read together (EUH440 and EUH441). The full discussion thread is here for reference: Discussion about proposed new EU hazard classes, Anne-Christine Machery and Alison Potts.pdf

Serhii Lytvynenko of Juul Labs asked “Let me just clarify one point: to be classified, say, as a PMT the substance must meet all three criteria (Persistence, Mobile, and Toxic), rather than only one or two out of the three. Is it the correct understanding, please?” Serhii is of course correct, for PBT it’s Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic, and for PMT it’s Persistent, Mobile and Toxic. In both cases the substance has to meet all 3 criteria. It’s the same with the “very” equivalents, both criteria need to be met: vPvB is very Persistent, very Bioaccumulative, and vPvM is very Persistent, very Mobile.

And an excellent point was made by Peter SmithI can see how these proposed classifications might create some confusion especially the ED classification since it’s a mode of action and not a toxicological end point. I used to think that one solution for ED might have been to be a little creative with STOT and expand it to cover irreversible damage to the endocrine system. This is not ideal, but a new classification for a ED feels far from ideal too. If it goes ahead in Europe it will be interesting to see if it is taken up by the UN under it’s GHS programme. As you point out, there seems to be work being created here for toxicologists.

Peter hits the nail on the head for me – endocrine disruption is a mode of action and not a toxicological end point, so it should come into effect via existing hazard classes.

If these proposed new hazard classes affect you or your business, please do submit your responses to the EU as soon as possible, as the deadline of 18th October is approaching rapidly https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/ha…

And you can find further information on this issue, including a series of infographics showing the proposed classification details for both substances and mixtures in our email newsletter dated 23rd September 2022, available for our email subscribers archive at  https://www.ghsclassificationcourses.com/home/news…. (if you are an existing email newsletter subscriber, don’t worry, you won’t be sent two copies, unless you use two different email addresses). The PBT/vPvB image at the top of this newsletter shows one of these four infographics.

The Weekend Read – talc and cancer – is asbestos the real villain?

Regular newsletter readers will be aware that ANSES, the French equivalent of the HSE, were responsible for a somewhat dubious classification of talc, carbon black and titanium dioxide in a monograph they prepared for IARC back in 2010 (no 93) https://publications.iarc.fr/Book-And-Report-Serie….

This document took the well-known phenomenon of rats having lung tumours if they’re exposed to 2000 mg/kg dust by inhalation, regardless of the type of dust (it could be flour or icing sugar or anything), which is thought to be unique to rats (doesn’t occur in mice, guinea pigs, rabbits etc), and tried to read-across to human health, despite there being very little evidence or plausible explanations.

So I’ve certainly been very sceptical of the claims about talc being responsible for ovarian cancer, even discussing this pre-2006 with my late Granny the GP, who had heard the rumours and stopped using talc as part of her personal hygiene routine (I know it was before 2006, because that was the year she died due to heart problems aged nearly 91).

I simply couldn’t see that using talc on one’s “lady parts” could result in it getting into the ovaries, because the movement of fluids is from the womb outwards, and not in the other direction (with the exception of semen, of course!). In the environmental world, we are forever thinking about source – pathway-receptor linkages, and that one didn’t seem plausible to me.

So it was quite a shock to read this article in (of all places) the New Yorker Magazine which gives a very detailed account of the talc issue at Johnson and Johnson, see https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/09/19/john…

Several interesting points from this article include: it’s likely to be asbestos in the talc which is the issue; and that J&J’s scientists postulated that very fine particles might get into the bloodstream, and from there migrate to the ovary. (We know that substances can end up in the ovary from the bloodstream from mRNA vaccines, which were found in rat ovaries during tests on the vaccines during the pandemic). One poor lady with ovarian cancer even had her ovaries tested and asbestos was found, although J&J claimed that this was due to contamination.

The article brings up a number of questions for me – is anyone looking for asbestos in the ovaries of ladies with ovarian cancer? is it plausible for very fine particles to enter the bloodstream from the lungs? and was ANSES influenced by the alleged carcinogenic properties of talc when they made their monograph? Perhaps we have been looking in the wrong part of the body, for the wrong chemical? Occams razor would suggest that asbestos is a more likely culprit than talc, particularly for ladies who have repeatedly inhaled large quantities of talc while looking after babies, and also in their own personal care routine. And if talc is carcinogenic due to the presence of asbestos, would that mean that Carbon Black is innocent (at least when made from natural gas)? Titanium dioxide’s hazard status may depend on whether it contains impurities of asbestos, or other silicates which are known to behave in a similar way in the body.

There are definitely more questions than answers, and I feel that I have been too quick to dismiss the talc claims from the USA as ambulance chasing lawyers creating a problem, rather than looking into it in more detail. As someone said on LinkedIn ” The conventional safety industry wisdom was this was bad juries and junk science. Now I am not as sure.” I’d be very interested in your thoughts on this matter, as I feel it should help us get to a new understanding of at least some forms of cancer. There is so much we simply don’t understand.

Many thanks to James Pomeroy for sharing the New Yorker article on LinkedIn.

Titanium dioxide news

While we’re thinking about IARC Monograph 93:

New IARC monograph 130, updating old hazards and introducing new ones

IARC have just published Monograph 130, https://www.iarc.who.int/news-events/iarc-monograp… . This covers 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, N-methylolacrylamide, 1,2-diphenylhydrazine, diphenylamine, and isophorone (the latter three have not been considered by IARC previously).

This is important news for GHS jurisdictions which accept IARC’s assessment of carcinogenicity as sufficient to demonstrate that the substance is definitely carcinogenic, but here in the UK (as in the EU) there will have to be a separate assessment process before any of these chemicals’ current classifications are changed.

What different concentrations of sugar would look like in liquids

Caroline Simpson of Colourscapes has created this really good visualisation of what different concentrations really mean (although there is significantly more than 1 cube of sugar in a 1.5 litre bottle of cola!).

No alt text provided for this image

UK chemical trade issues

Mark Rowbotham of ISC Portcullis writes: From Saturday 1st October any company who has not registered for use with the new digital customs declaration system-CDS, will not be able to import any products into the UK at all.

This means that goods leaving the country of supply must arrive by Friday 30th September and be cleared into the UK by midnight at the very latest to import under the old CHIEF system. Please ensure your company and your customs agents are fully prepared.

UK Export roadshow invite from DIT

The DIT is hosting a series of roadshows to provide help and information for exporters in Manchester (1/11), Birmingham (2/11) & London (3/11). You can book here: https://www.events.great.gov.uk/website/9367/ . Alastair Gardner and Lydia Moi MIEx and their colleagues at DIT do a great job of promoting the UK chemicals sector, and this looks a very interesting set of roadshows for anyone new to exporting.

Process safety corner

The latest Trish and Traci podcast is on Hydrogen safety, a hot topic in engineering circles at the moment: https://www.chemicalprocessing.com/process-safety-…

A link to an old Process Safety Beacon on the hazards of flammable mists as well as dusts, thanks to Sarah Eck for sharing on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/engineereck_2017-sa… . A mist explosion occurred even though the liquid was below it’s flash point! A must-read for anyone involved with flammables.

And a short article on galvanic corrosion – https://www.linkedin.com/posts/annedeaconjuhl_corr… .

The Weekend Recipe

I’ve put several Royal recipes in the weekly email newsletter this year in honour of the Platinum Jubilee, but I thought the most appropriate one following Her Majesty’s death is a recipe which we know The Queen used to make herself. She sent the recipe to President Eisenhower in 1957, see https://www.hellomagazine.com/cuisine/202203011343…

Queen Elizabeth II’s Drop Scones


  • 4 teacups flour
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teacups milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter


Beat the eggs, sugar and about half the milk together. Add the flour and mix well together, adding the remainder of milk as required. Add the bicarbonate and cream of tartar, then fold in the melted butter.

Heat a frying or griddle pan with some melted butter in. Pour in two or three large spoonfuls of the batter (make sure they don’t touch each other) – these will be your drop scones or ‘Scotch pancakes’. When the batter is bubbling on top, flip over each drop scone. They are ready when each side is slightly browned.

Her Majesty’s top tips: “Though the quantities are for 16 people, when there are fewer, I generally put in less flour and milk, but use the other ingredients as stated”. “I have also tried using golden syrup or treacle instead of only sugar and that can be very good, too. think the mixture needs a great deal of beating while making, and shouldn’t stand about too long before cooking.”

Non royal tips – Heat the pan or griddle until so that if you sprinkle a few drops of water on it, the water forms a ball which rolls about and bounces. Note that the teacups are British, not American.

Reasons to be cheerful

We paused the funny videos for a time out of respect for Her Majesty, but when we resumed, it seemed appropriate to include some which showed her sense of fun:

  • The best Bond Girl ever at the London Olympics, 2012:
  • With Paddington at the Platinum Jubilee:
  • And the best version of God Save the Queen (according to Mike):

As Paddington said, on behalf of the nation, “Thank you Ma’am – for everything”.

How we will miss her.

Many thanks for reading this LinkedIn newsletter, and many thanks to everyone who has contributed. If you have anything you’d like to share, please email me and I’ll do my best to include it in the next newsletter.

It would be great if you’d like to subscribe to this newsletter, or even our weekly email one https://www.ghsclassificationcourses.com/home/news… (which includes access to the email archive).

Look forward to chatting to you in October,

Kind regards,


Janet Greenwood, TT Environmental Ltd

Table of Contents