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Expert: Safer Chemicals Need More Support In Marketplace

A researcher told a recent chemical industry conference that safer alternatives to conventional chemicals already exist β€” but that they need more support from regulators and advocacy groups.

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A researcher told a recent chemical industry conference that safer alternatives to conventional chemicals already exist β€” but that they need more support from regulators and advocacy groups.

Sally Edwards of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production told the Chemical Watch Safer Chemicals in Products event that companies frequently develop materials considered safer than current options only to see those products struggle to gain market acceptance.

Edwards told the San Francisco conference that those materials need "a regulatory driver or NGOs pushing to say this is really a safer alternative," Chemical Watch reports.

Chemical manufacturers are increasingly facing pressure to use safer products if available. An Obama administration rule would have required facilities to consider safer alternatives as part of their risk management process, but the Trump administration recently delayed implementation of that rule until 2019 as it considers changes.

Industry groups were largely opposed to that rule, but green chemistry advocates argue that safer alternatives should provide superior performance in addition to a decreased risk to humans and the environment.

Regulators also stressed the importance of ensuring that alternative chemicals don't result in different risks at the CW conference.

Company officials, meanwhile, said that producers could only do so much to change consumer behavior β€” particularly after many years of using the same products.

"There needs to be more conversation about those, because, I think, in many cases those alternatives already exist," Edwards said.

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