Keeping Consumers Safe
Dr. Dydek has evaluated the safety of a variety of consumer products. Many of these contain potentially-toxic components and rules and regulations from various regulatory agencies govern how much of those chemicals can be present in the product. The following are examples of the types of consumer product safety projects on which he has worked:
Tobacco Smoking: Smoking is clearly one of the most pressing public health issues in this country and around the world. In some cases, smokers have worked in jobs in which they also had exposure to chemicals that can cause the same types of diseases as smoking. In the tobacco litigation world, it is important to differentiate between the effects of smoking and those of chemical exposures.
Alternative Fuels Registration: New vehicle fuels (such as “biodiesel”) must be registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Part of that process is to verify that evaporative and combustion emissions from the alternative fuels will be no more toxic than “baseline” (traditional) gasoline or diesel fuels. In this work, a comparison is made between the emissions from the alternative fuel and the baseline fuel. This type of evaluation must be performed before fuel registration is granted and can then be produced and marketed.
Medical Devices: There are several types of devices which are implanted in the human body that contain potentially-toxic metals. One such device is an electrode placed in people for control of chronic pain. Perhaps more familiar are hip, shoulder, and knee joint replacement devices. The toxicological issue here is whether metals released from such implants would cause toxic reactions in the body.
Art Materials: Many colored art products (paints, paper, poster board) contain metals and organic chemicals. These include cadmium, chromium, lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has guidelines for the amount of heavy metals and organic chemicals present in paper products and packaging materials. An evaluation is required to demonstrate the safety of these articles for consumers, especially for children.
Lubricants: While benzene, a known human carcinogen, has largely been eliminated from consumer products, certain lubricants (Liquid Wrench, WD-40, etc.) used in industry and by consumers can still contain trace amounts of this chemical. Because of the possibility that over-exposure to benzene can cause cancer, a careful analysis of exposure scenarios is needed to assess the health risk of these products.