New devices approved for drug driving testing by Nick Boley
May 27, 2015, 16:05
Filed under: Drugs, Forensics, UK Government Information | Tags: , ,

The Home Office have approved two further devices for carrying out roadside testing in cases of suspected driving whilst under the influence of illegal drugs.

The two devices are:

  • Draeger DrugTest 5000, previously approved for preliminary drug testing in 2012, and now for mobile preliminary drug testing from March 2015 for cannabis and cocaine
  • Securetec DrugWipe 3S S303G, approved for mobile preliminary drug testing from December 2014 for cannabis and cocaine

These are welcome developments in having validated and reliable testing devices available to police forces for the detection of drug driving. Devices for the detection of other illegal drugs are not yet available and, as we posted previously, no certified reference materials (CRMs) are available as yet to support these devices and their use. This distinguishes them from the roadside testing regime in place for drink driving cases.


Novel RMs produced to support WFD analyses by Nick Boley

Scientists at the European Commission’s Joint Research Laboratory (JRC), based in Geel (Belgium) have developed a series of three water reference materials (RMs) containing priority hazardous substances (PHS) as defined under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). These three novel materials contain:

  1. eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),
  2. six polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and
  3. tributyltin

A recent report published under the Government Chemist’s Advisory Function on analytical measurement issues in relation to the WFD highlighted the dearth of reference materials to support laboratories carrying out monitoring of water bodies in support of the WFDs. These new materials provide an extremely welcome development to help and support monitoring laboratories in carrying out these measurements accurately and precisely at the very low concentrations required.

ALDI joins list of companies signed up to Greenpeace detox commitment by Nick Boley
April 15, 2015, 10:11
Filed under: chemicals, Toxicology | Tags: , , ,

ALDI has become the latest company to sign up to Greenpeace’s Detox Commitment. As a consequence they will ensure that a raft of toxic chemicals will be eliminated from all their textile products, and that full consumer information on this will be available. The company joins other discount retailers such as LiDL in signing up to the Detox Commitment. The chemicals which are covered by this ban are:

  • alkylphenols;
  • phthalates;
  • brominated and chlorinated flame retardants;
  • azo dyes;
  • organotin compounds;
  • perfluorinated chemicals;
  • chlorobenzenes;
  • chlorinated solvents;
  • chlorophenols;
  • short-chain chlorinated paraffins; and
  • heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury and chromium (VI))

This will place the onus on ALDI’s suppliers to ensure these chemicals, already shown by Greenpeace to be toxic and present in many widely-traded products, are no longer present, which will involve further analytical testing to confirm their absence. Analytical methods used for such testing would need to be sensitive as the levels of these chemicals can be very low, and they can have toxic effects even at very low concentrations.

New CEN Publications: January 2015 by Nick Boley
February 3, 2015, 12:17
Filed under: CEN Standards | Tags: ,

The following list shows standards and technical documents published by the European Standardisation Organisation, CEN, during December 2014 and January 2015, some of which are relevant to chemical measurement in support of regulation.

CEN ISO/TS 80004-1:2014 – Nanotechnologies – Vocabulary – Part 1: Core terms

CEN ISO/TS 80004-3:2014 – Nanotechnologies – Vocabulary – Part 3: Carbon nano-objects

CEN ISO/TS 80004-4:2014 – Nanotechnologies – Vocabulary – Part 4: Nanostructured materials

EN 15063-1:2014 – Copper and copper alloys – Determination of main constituents and impurities by wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) – Part 1: Guidelines to the routine method

EN 16568:2014 – Automotive fuels – Blends of Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) with diesel fuel – Determination of oxidation stability by rapidly accelerated oxidation method at 120 °C




New EA approach to hazardous pollutants discharges by Nick Boley

The Environment Agency will be introducing more stringent rules covering discharges of hazardous chemicals in surface waters. following a partial response to a consultation on this subject which closed in December 2013 to amend the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.

The procedure for screening hazardous pollutants in water discharges will be tightened, with the emphasis on the more toxic pollutants and is aimed to deliver compliance with the agency’s “no deterioration” policy which requires “control of discharges which cause more than 10% deterioration against the EU Environmental Quality Standard (EQS)”.

One of the main concerns about this change of direction is from those responsible for measuring pollutants in laboratories – including water companies. The methods of analysis available for many of the most highly toxic pollutants which would be caught by this change struggle to cope with the current levels as specified in the EQS and so there is a potential large cost to laboratories to gear up their procedures to cope. The ability of measurement methods to enforce and monitor pollution under any regulatory regime is an important aspect and should not be ignored.


Eco-labelling criteria for ‘Rinse-off cosmetic products’ established by Nick Boley
December 12, 2014, 11:58
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, EU Information, EU Regulation/Legislation | Tags: ,

The European Commission have published ecological criteria for the award of the EU Ecolabel for rinse-off cosmetic products.

Amongst the criteria listed are substances which may not be included in these products, either as part of the product formulation or as part of any mixture within the formulation.  These substances are:

(i) Alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEOs) and other alkyl phenol derivatives;
(ii) Nitrilo-tri-acetate (NTA);
(iii) Boric acid, borates and perborates;
(iv) Nitromusks and polycyclic musks;
(v) Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4);
(vi) Butylated Hydroxy Toluene (BHT);

(vii) Ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA) and its salts and non-readily biodegradable phosphonates;
(viii) The following preservatives: triclosan, parabens, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers.
(ix) The following fragrances and ingredients of the fragrance mixtures: Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde (HICC), Atranol and Chloroatranol;
(x) Micro-plastics;
(xi) Nanosilver.

This list demands that validated methods are available in accredited laboratories to measure and identify these substances accurately in order to demonstrate compliance. These should be readily available in many cases, but the determination of nanosilver remains a potential problem. It is also important to note that these substances should not be present; we have to understand the limits of detection for these, so we know the maximum concentrations that may be present in compliant products.





New drink-drive limits in Scotland by Nick Boley
December 8, 2014, 10:26
Filed under: transport, UK Government Information | Tags: , ,

The Scottish Government have introduced a lower alcohol limit for drivers on 5 December (SSI 328/2014). This differentiates Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom in that the legal maximum alcohol level in blood has fallen, for blood,  from 80 mg per 100 mL to 50 mg per 100 mL, for urine from 107 mg per 100 mL to 67 mg per 100 mL, and for breath from 35 µg per 100 mL to 22 µg per 100 mL.

This brings Scotland into line with a significant number of EU countries. In order to enforce this new legislation, forensic laboratories will need to amend their measurement methods in order to accurately determine, with a known uncertainty of measurement, alcohol in blood and urine at these new , lower, levels. This will not present any challenges, and certified reference materials (CRMs) containing alcohol at these levels to support these measurements are already widely available. Roadside testing equipment used by Police Scotland must also be ale to cope with these changes, and CRMs are also widely available at the lower levels to calibrate and validate the equipment used, for example from LGC Standards.

A specific concern to may in Scotland now is the “morning-after” effect, when alcohol level residues from the previous day could render drivers over the new limit where they would not have been previously. Some companies have been marketing products for use by drivers to check their status in the morning, such as Alcosense™, specifically aimed at Scotland and the new lower level. These check the breath alcohol level, convert to blood alcohol level, and are for guidance. They have no legal status. The principle on which these devices work is similar to the roadside devices used by the police. They have been shown to have high precision, i.e. they are consistent. However, no data has ever been produced to demonstrate their absolute accuracy although anecdotally they appear to give expected results based on intake. The accuracy claims of manufacturers need to be understood by the user. Accuracy to 0.2 % blood alcohol level (equivalent to 20 mg per 100 mL blood) may look very impressive, but for the new Scottish law equates to a relative potential error of ± 40 %. So, if it reads 0.3 % you may be OK, you may not. If it reads 0.7 % you are probably not OK, but on the other hand you may be just OK. This has the effect of building in a safety margin, but the interpretation of the data, as with any handheld device for personal measurement of anything (e.g. cholesterol, blood sugar), is key and the responsibility ultimately lies with the user.