New Green Economy

Green Chemistry event in Washington – you’re invited

On behalf of The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) and the Washington State Green Chemistry Roundtable, you are invited to the 2012 Regional Roundtable on October 23-25, at the Suquamish Clearwater Hotel on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington.

Green chemistry offers new approaches in the design of chemistries and the opportunity for economic transformation the Pacific Northwest. The Washington State Green Chemistry Roundtable is a forum for cross-sector collaboration to share learning and networking opportunities to advance your understanding of green chemistry. Registration fees are flexible to allow you to participate on the days of most interest. A draft working agenda is attached.

October 23: Advance Your Understanding of Green Chemistry

The Washington State Department of Ecology, in partnership with the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (GCI) will be offering half-day green chemistry workshops on October 23. The GCI workshops include: “Introductory Green Chemistry 101” and “Intermediate Green Chemistry 201” short courses. The workshops range from introducing the concepts of green chemistry, taking a deeper dive into the business case studies, metrics and tools of green chemistry. Dr. Marty Mulvihill, Director of the University of California Center for Green Chemistry and Richard T. Williams, ACS Green Chemistry Institute will lead the training.

October 24: Focusing on Regional Priorities to Advance Green Chemistry Solutions

The second day offers a regional assessment and opportunities to solve the toxic threats facing the Puget Sound and the Columbia River basin. The objective for the day is to learn from businesses, government and nongovernmental organization on the latest information about toxics of emerging concern, how toxics are impacting people and the environment, regional green chemistry initiatives and the latest in the development of Washington’s Toxics Reduction Strategy.

October 25: Green Chemistry Business Roundtable: Supply Chain Perspectives on Challenges and Opportunities

What’s the value proposition for green chemistry? Hear from business and industry leaders on efforts to drive green chemistry innovations, promote new models for collaboration, and utilize appropriate decision-making tools to help guide business innovation. The Roundtable is bringing together several industry case studies to outline economic and environmental achievements that can be derived from green chemistry innovation as well as the market challenges. The business-to-business forum will facilitate cross-sector information sharing across the supply chain and opportunities for new types of collaboration.

Participants can make their hotel reservations by calling the Clearwater Resort at 866-609-8700. Indicate you are part of the PPRC group when you make your call. Make your reservations early because our block of rooms will only be held until Sept. 28, 2012. The room rate is $83 per night, plus the Suquamish tax rate of 7.5% and a Kitsap Tourism Development Tax of $1.75 per room per night.

For more information, contact Ken Zarker at or 360-407-6724.

New Green Economy

Arsenic and old rice

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors hundreds of foods and beverages that make up the average American diet. The agency looks for substances that could be harmful to consumers.  This can mean industrial chemicals, heavy metals, pesticide residues and radiation contamination. 

The FDA monitors rice and rice products, foods that FDA has specifically tested for the presence of inorganic arsenic, a chemical that under some circumstances has been associated with long-term health effects.

Thus far, the agency has analyzed nearly 200 samples of rice and rice products and is collecting about 1,000 more. Since rice is processed into many products, these samples include rice products such as cereals, rice beverages and rice cakes.

Arsenic levels can vary greatly from sample to sample, even within the same product. FDA’s testing of the initial samples found these examples of inorganic arsenic in micrograms (one millionth of a gram) in individual samples:

  • Rice (other than Basmati rice): 6.7 per 1 cup (cooked)
  • Rice cakes: 5.4 per 2 cakes
  • Rice beverages: 3.8 per 240 ml (some samples not tested for inorganic arsenic)
  • Rice cereals: 3.7 per 1 cup
  • Basmati rice: 3.5 per 1 cup cooked

Based on data and scientific literature available now, FDA is not recommending that consumers change their consumption of rice and rice products at this time, but that people eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of grains. (Translation: change your consumption of rice at this time.)

Data collection is the first step in assessing long-term health risks. Once FDA has completed its analysis of about 1,200 rice products, the agency will analyze these results and determine whether or not to issue additional recommendations.

“We understand that consumers are concerned about this matter,” says FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

The Next Steps
FDA expects to complete the additional collection and analysis of samples by the end of the year. The agency is paying particular attention to rice and rice products consumed by children, as well as consumers like Asian-Americans and those with celiac disease who may consumer higher levels of rice. After analyzing all samples and conducting a comprehensive assessment of potential health risks, FDA will evaluate strategies designed to limit arsenic exposure from rice and rice products.

The agency is working with other government agencies, industry, scientists, consumer groups and others to study the issue and assess risks.

“It is critical to not get ahead of the science,” says Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. “The FDA’s ongoing data collection and other assessments will give us a solid scientific basis for determining what steps are needed to reduce exposure to arsenic in rice and rice products.”

So what should a person who eats rice do in the meantime?

“Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains – not only for only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food,” says Hamburg.

(This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.)