article Chemicals used to coat everything from walls to ceiling tiles are increasingly being used in products ranging from cosmetics to household appliances.
But with each new innovation comes the need for chemicals that are resistant to many common chemicals and that can be reused without being toxic.
That means that many of these chemicals, including those that are commonly used in household chemicals, are also becoming toxic.
One of the major hurdles is how to prevent them from contaminating others, said Brian L. Kuk, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science and engineering at Ohio State University.
“One of the best things to do is to keep the chemicals in the environment safe and clean,” he said.
The U.S. government has already taken steps to address that problem.
In 2010, it issued a Clean Chemicals Standard (CCS) that mandates that all chemicals in products be free of potentially toxic substances.
But while the standards have been implemented nationwide, the standards themselves aren’t perfect.
For one, many of the new chemicals have not been tested extensively.
Another problem is that many chemicals that were initially designed for one use are now being used for many other purposes, including as biofuels, paints, paints with a wide variety of colors and even in home insulation, Kuk said.
“You could say that it’s an ongoing problem,” he added.
In addition, many new chemicals require a large upfront investment to obtain approval, and there is little guidance on how to use them.
“We’re really just in the early stages,” said Brian Schoen, executive director of the National Council of Chemicals Manufacturers.
He noted that the agency recently published an updated draft of the CCS, but that its final draft doesn’t include any language addressing how to manage the use of the chemicals.
“The draft does include a list of safety guidelines, but we haven’t seen those yet,” he explained.
A new study, “How to Use a Chemical in a Safe and Non-Toxic Way: An Ecosystem Approach,” will help address the issue, Kuki said.
He and his colleagues looked at how common chemicals were being used to make products that are already on the market.
They identified more than 200 chemicals used in home products in 2016 and compared them with their levels of toxicity.
“They showed that these chemicals are highly toxic, so they have to be avoided,” he told Engadgets.
“That’s a big step.”
The study found that a chemical called methanol was more toxic than most common household chemicals like methylene chloride and ethylbenzene chloride.
But the authors also found that these compounds are used in more than 70 percent of household products that were tested, suggesting that they’re safe for most people.
“It’s really important to get chemical use out of the home and put it in the recycling bin,” Kuki told Engabits.
“But also, to be able to use these chemicals safely and environmentally, the use should be coordinated with the reuse of these products.”
In addition to providing a safer alternative to chemicals that don’t require a long-term recycling process, the study also points out that the use and distribution of these chemical-free products can help reduce the overall use of chemical-laden products.
“If we want to reduce the use, we need to be more efficient about what we’re doing with it,” Kuk added.