KTU Researchers Seek to Introduce Substitution of Hazardous Chemical Substances

2016-05-03 11:30

Hazardous chemical substances used in economic activities cause risk to workers, consumers and environment. A high responsibility is placed on industry for the proper choices of chemicals and chemicals management. Yet how can this be implemented?

Legal regulations are in place and hazardous substances are prioritised (e.g. substances of very high concern under the REACH regulation, or priority and priority hazardous substances under the Water Framework Directive), meaning that there are constraints for their production, use and emissions. Nevertheless, it is crucial to have knowledge, tools and skills in order to implement the requirements.

Encouragement of substitution of hazardous chemical substances in the Baltic States

Researchers of the Institute of Environmental Engineering together with partners from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Germany implement LIFE programme project Fit for REACH, which aims at reducing environmental and human health impact by substituting hazardous chemicals substances. Professor Jolita Kruopienė says “Hazardous substances will be eliminated from the food packaging, household chemicals, and construction chemicals. Substitution cases will be implemented in six participating companies from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In addition to these companies, some more 50 to 80 companies from the Baltic States are being invited to join the project and to implement substitution “light cases”.

The project partners identify and test potential alternatives, make their environmental, technological and economic assessment in order to avoid “regrettable” substitution (when an alternative substance turns out to cause bigger negative environmental impact compared to the substance of concern), assess environmental impact and socio-economic effects of the substitution, develop tools to assist in proper management of chemicals. They also investigate factors, which prevent and which encourage industry in the Baltic countries to implement substitution, and analyse possibilities to change the reputation of substitution as of difficult and expensive to implement activity.

On 20–22 April, Professor dr. Jolita Kruopienė, Associate professor dr. Jolanta Dvarionienė and Ph.D. student Semih Oguzcan participated in the project meeting – seminar in Riga, where they have presented the environmental indicator concept for substitution. The concept is being developed as one of the project activities and it is intended to be suitable to evaluate changes achieved due to a substitution, which might involve changes in chemicals, materials, natural resources, and energy.