EPA P2 2020

Our 2020 Pollution Prevention (P2) Project Summary

Greener Solutions and Greener Partnerships: Academic/Industry Collaboration for Safer Chemical Formulation

US EPA Region 9 Business-Based Pollution Prevention Solutions Supporting Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Priorities and Chemical Safety (2018-2021)

PFASs, poly and perfluorinated alkyl substances, are used in a wide range of industries and applications; their human and environmental health concerns have been well documented and show these substances to be almost universally present and persistent, in air, soil and water as well as living tissue. Many PFAS are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). PFAS have been associated with increased air pollution and ozone destruction, water contamination and soil contamination. This project aims to reduce their use by identifying successful and safer substitutions, educating manufacturers about these alternatives and how to make their own assessments, and collaborating with businesses to adopt safer materials and processes.

This project will seek to reduce the amount of hazardous PFASs in the marketplace by providing product manufacturers and their formulators in two industry sectors (carpets, packaging) with enhanced intelligence about the hazards found in formulations, tools to use in performing alternative and chemical hazard assessments, training in how to use the tools, and case studies of safer substitutions and a broad methodology for finding alternatives as currently employed in the Greener Solutions graduate course at UC Berkeley. This is in alignment with the goals of the February, 2019 US EPA Action Plan to expand research and develop test standards. This project represents the collaborative and upstream aspect of a multi-pronged approach to reducing these chemicals in our environment: working with stakeholders in developing safer alternatives before they reach our air, soil and water.

This is a three-year, two-phase per year project, with case studies developed in the first two years and industry followup and continued dissemination occurring in year three (2023). Phase One comprises a 17-week “deep dive” investigation of technical and EHS (environmental, health and safety) performance of chemicals in targeted carpet and rug and packaging products in the graduate course Greener Solutions, PH271H. Phase Two comprises the work of interns in sector organizations to focus on specific aspects of the findings produced in Phase One.

This work is well under way as of September, 2021, with one full Greener Solutions course completed in 2020, in which four separate interdisciplinary teams investigated chemical hazard issues in both the carpet and rug and packaging sectors. These teams all made presentations during a half-day symposium at the annual ACS Green Chemistry and Engineering conference in June, 2021. Their reports can be seen here.  Their ACS presentations can be seen here.

Also, as of this date, eight interns have been placed through the Greener Partnerships program, thanks to an innovative public/private support model leveraging funds from the US EPA, Region 9, and the Wareham Foundation. A summary of their work can be found here.  Four case studies have been prepared and can be found here. In addition to the case studies, outreach will include a best practices primer, webinars, and intern host organization workshops.