The chemicals needed to produce biologics are different from those required for small molecule drug synthesis. Chemical management software can help companies overcome challenges associated with changes in reagent usage. Image Credit: Flickr use Horia Varlan Looking ahead to the future of the pharmaceutical industry, one trend is overwhelmingly clear […]

Organizations can minimize chemical hazards in the laboratory by implementing a digital management system. Image source: Flickr CC user Upupa4me Several highly publicized chemical accidents have dominated headlines in recent years. Incidents like the West fertilizer plant fire and the Tianjin warehouse explosion have served as costly reminders about the […]

The past few years have been filled with several highly publicized chemical safety mishaps. Between chemical spills into public water supplies and warehouse explosions that disrupt a port’s daily activities, the problems span industries and national borders. To make matters worse, it’s not so much that these disasters happen. Despite our best efforts, an accident is bound to happen sooner or later. What’s crucial in these worst-case scenarios, however, is how the involved parties handle the incident. Unfortunately, we haven’t been doing so well on that score. In many instances, the accidents reveal major hazard communication violations. What else do we call it when a company can’t tell authorities what chemicals were being stored in a particular facility? If a company can’t identify a hazardous material, how can anyone properly address the environmental and public health repercussions?

Last August, a warehouse explosion took place in the Chinese city of Tianjin. The tragedy claimed the lives of 165 people and injured almost 800 more. In addition to the loss of life and property, the incident had other far-reaching effects. Because Tianjin is a port city, ships scheduled to dock had to be rerouted after the explosion. As a result, sites within a 10-mile radius faced a supply chain disruption. Estimates claim that the economic impact of the accident could potentially reach $8 billion. So what exactly caused the explosion? An initial investigation pointed to widespread corruption and bribery that contributed to the improper storage of hazardous materials in close proximity to residential areas. Unfortunately, a recent Chinese probe revealed the chemical safety failures went even further.

In May 2015, Brazilian authorities first noticed that a virus native to Africa, the Zika virus, was spreading in their country. What happened next, however, could not be predicted: the Zika virus was linked to thousands of children being born with microcephaly. What has authorities especially worried is many believe the outbreak will spread throughout the Americas and some countries have advised women to avoid pregnancy until 2017. The Zika virus provides an example of a virus-induced developmental toxicity, defined as any alteration in child development due to an environmental insult. However, manmade specialty chemicals and pollutants can similarly affect child development. Because specialty chemicals used in common items such as water bottles or chairs are not often tested in pregnant and breastfeeding women to determine their ability to cross the placenta, specialty chemical companies can still do more to determine the extent to which their chemicals may expose women and their fetuses to negative side effects. In order to make such progress, new laboratories and research efforts must be undertaken by specialty chemical companies, while new technologies and software can assist in the organization of this information.

Over three years have passed since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officially adopted the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). To help the transition, it set a series of compliance deadlines, all of which have since passed except for one. That final deadline comes up later this year on June 1, when everyone covered by OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard must be in full compliance with the new regulations.

A new year means new beginnings, new goals, and new resolutions. It also means taking a look back at the previous year to take stock of your successes along with areas that could use some improvement. OSHA seems to share this sentiment because every year, they release a list of the top 10 violations for the past 12 months. In fact, you could say that the announcement of this list has become something of an annual tradition. The list tallies safety citations handed out by the agency across all industries. It includes things like fall protection and general electrical issues. The items may not necessarily be surprising for those in the workplace, but many companies can avoid the listed pitfalls more often than not.