From: "Casparian, Armen" <caspariana**At_Symbol_Here**WIT.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Question About MCHM
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2014 19:38:58 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: 34A942B15A329D46820651CB2BA02CAD50E3B6B7**At_Symbol_Here**exmbx1
In-Reply-To <976247FE-B7C1-4D43-A6DA-089CA4F506CB**At_Symbol_Here**>



You’re right.  The media missed a lot of aspects to this story.  Like how could a chemical be used on a regular commercial basis and not have its health effects more carefully known, especially in the event of an accident.  There must be some very fine print in the TSCA law that exempts this chemical.  Also in question if the fact that this chemical, like many others such as off-grade plasticizers, contain unknown impurities, whose health effects may be known or unknown, and if known, disclosed to the end user, in the event of an accident.   HAZMAT Team response time if critical.  OSHA inspection schedules of the storage tanks and facilities, which I heard anecdotally  were also relaxed for this company and type of operation.  If anyone knows why, I would love to hear it. Thanks for your response.




Armen S. Casparian

Professor (Retired), Dept.. of Sciences

Wentworth Institute of Technology

Boston, MA 02115



From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of ILPI Support
Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2014 9:28 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Question About MCHM


In my mind, the media fell short on their coverage of this whole debacle.  The real story was not that 10,000 gallons leaked into a river.


The REAL story should have been - what happens to the probably millions of gallons of this stuff when it is used for its intended purpose of "coal flotation"?  What happens to it afterwards?  History demonstrates that coal companies are not the best stewards of the environment.


Rob Toreki



Safety Emporium - Lab & Safety Supplies featuring brand names

you know and trust.  Visit us at

esales**At_Symbol_Here**  or toll-free: (866) 326-5412

Fax: (856) 553-6154, PO Box 1003, Blackwood, NJ 08012




On Feb 6, 2014, at 7:53 AM, "Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety" <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG> wrote:

From: Casparian, Armen
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2014 1:08 PM
Subject: Question About MCHM

Hi All,

In the January 20 edition of C&EN, in the article “Toxicity Unknown,” we are told that East Chemical manufactures 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MHCM) and Freedom Industries buys it (and it crude form, which probably means it contains some unknown impurities) to use as a coal cleaning agent in coal powered electric power generation stations.  Also mentioned is the fact the 37 year old Toxic Substances Control Act is supposed to regulate substances used in commerce.  In this matter, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of EPA. The article also states that “companies are not mandated to submit hazard information to EPA, except when data suggest the possibility of substantial risk.”  Further, the article states that “TSCA sets up complex legal requirements that EPA must meet before the agency can require manufacturers (I assume Eastman Chemical) to provide toxicity data for a chemical in commerce.” What does the law say about the responsibility of users buying the chemical,!
 like Freedom Industries?   Risk is a product of the health hazards and the probability of an accident occurring, i.e. leaking into the Elk River.  It seems from the MSDS provided by Eastman Chemical, a thorough knowledge of the health effects of MHCN was undetermined.  Being in crude form, it may or may not have a CAS #.  As a regulatory and enforcement agency,  shouldn’t EPA have required more thorough studies and  documentation about this chemical, from either Eastman Chemical or Freedom Industries, before allowing it in commerce?  Perhaps, these “complex legal requirements” need to be changed.  Moreover, what do  Freedom Industries records show as far as periodic inspections of the storage tanks and their condition, as required by OSHA regulations?  A somewhat similar set of circumstances were present in the Bhopal, India accidental release of methyl isocyanate (MIC) in 1984. And we know what the consequences were then.  In the same issue, in the “Safety First “ ‘from t!
he editor’ article, I think Jim Kaufman is right on target when he states that “It’s criminal that principals and superintendents (in this case company chemical health and safety inspection teams as well supervisory regulatory inspection teams) aren’t paying more attention to compliance with health and safety regulations.”

Armen Casparian

Armen S. Casparian
Professor (Retired), Dept. of Sciences
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Boston, MA 02115


Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.