On October 9, 2013 the Food Packaging Forum (FPF) hosted a lunch with the direction pointing title “Green Chemistry” in co-operation with Green Buzz, a Zurich based green professionals’ network. The lunch was attended by stakeholders from industry and science. At the talk which took place in Zurich, Switzerland, Pete Myers, founder of the news agency Environmental Health Sciences and professor at Carnegie Mellon University, U.S., spoke on the efforts of green chemists to make chemicals inherently safer. In an introductory speech, Prof. Martin Scheringer, president of the FPF foundation board and professor at the Swiss Technical University Zurich, Switzerland, pointed out that chemical data on persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity is only available for 5 percent of all chemicals on the market. In the subsequent talk, Myers detailed that chemicals found to be hazardous are often replaced with chemicals that are not safer but on which less chemical data was available. According to him, this is particularly problematic with regards to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Not only do EDCs act at low doses, but they also affect endpoints that are not addressed in conventional toxicological risk assessment. As little data is available on endocrine activity of chemicals, EDCs taken off the market are often replaced with equally hazardous substances. Upon this realization, Myers established a group of renowned endocrinologists and industrial chemists. The group developed a tiered approach for making inherently safe chemicals, including a battery of in vitro tests for endocrine activity early in the design process. This approach ensures that potentially hazardous chemicals detected early and not pursued by industrial chemists. The chemicals passing the selection of quick and relatively cheap in vitro tests are almost certain to also pass the expensive final toxicity testing in mammals required by regulators.
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