204796 Reducing Workers' Exposure to Chemical Hazards: The Role of Biobased Products

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:00 AM

Ephraim Massawe, PhD , Computer Science and Industrial Technology, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA
Kenneth Geiser, PhD , Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Over the past decade there have been a significant number of initiatives designed to reduce occupational health and safety hazards associated with petroleum based chemicals. Despite this effort, health and safety hazards of these chemicals still remain one of the biggest challenges. Recent studies have established that for a large number of chemicals, exposure is associated with acute and chronic health impacts, and significantly affect ecosystems.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the existing initiatives in the U.S. such as promotion of biobased products initiative to determine if they could be used as safer, healthier and ecologically friendly alternatives in place of petroleum based counterparts. The study subjected a few selected biobased chemicals and products through a series of evaluation criteria, including technical viability, ecological, health and safety assessment.

The results of this study indicate that there are a large number of alternative biobased chemicals that could compete with the existing petroleum based products. Technical performance of these biobased chemicals tested were equally as good as the existing petroleum chemicals. Consumers' experience was very positive with respect to technical performance of biobased chemicals. As expected, the environmental footprint of biobased chemicals was half that of the petroleum based chemicals, but their cost was five times higher, mainly because of the economies of scale. The cost of petroleum based products does not reflect all factors which would have otherwise make biobased chemicals and products as competitive.

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate performance of biobased chemicals and products. Analyze ecological, health and safety impacts of emerging biobased materials. Discuss way forward with respect to promoting biobased chemicals and products for commercial application - industrial use and other uses. Assess criteria for emerging technologies and processes with respect to occupational exposures.

Keywords: Workplace Safety, Workplace Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Research Assistant - University of Massachusetts Lowell. Toxics Use Reduction Institute. Part of my PhD dissertation
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.