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Chemical company will pay former Rockland employees $695k for lost benefits – Bangor Daily News

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Stephen Betts | BDN

Stephen Betts | BDN

FMC Corp. previously operated the carrageenan plant located on Rockland's waterfront. The plant is now owned by DowDuPont Chemical.

ROCKLAND, Maine FMC Corp. has agreed to pay a group of former employees $695,000 for wages they say the company failed to pay when its Rockland carrageenan plant was sold to DowDupont Chemical more than two years ago.

The settlement resolves the federal lawsuit filed by five longtime FMC employees last year and provides closure to an issue that has festered since the November 2017 sale of the plant. The terms of the settlement agreement, which was filed Friday, must still be approved by a judge.

The lawsuit claimed that FMC, a Pennsylvania-based chemical manufacturing company, violated a company policy and Maine law by failing to pay employees for accrued vacation time in 2017 when their employment with FMC was terminated.

When FMC sold the Rockland plant, its employees became DowDuPont employees.

FMC denied any wrongdoing, but settled the case because further litigation would be protracted, expensive and would divert management and employee time and attention, according to the agreement.

The lawsuit was initially filed on behalf of five former FMC employees: Thomas Ames of Owls Head, Todd Conant of Rockport, Gregory Gould of Rockland, Rodney Mason of Owls Head and Karen Migliore of Union.

It is being treated as a class-action case and about 107 former FMC employees qualify to receive a share of the $695,000 settlement.

The plant itself has been a fixture on Rocklands Tillson Avenue also known as Crockett Point since the 1930s, when Align Corp. began extracting carrageenan from red seaweed. Carrageenan is a thickening agent used in a range of products from ice cream to toothpaste.

FMC operated the plant from the 1970s until the 2017 sale, according to court documents.

The Rockland plant is again expected to change hands, as DuPont Nutrition and Bioscience the division of DowDupont that operates the plant plans to merge with International Flavors and Fragrances, which the companies announced in December of last year.

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Chemical company will pay former Rockland employees $695k for lost benefits - Bangor Daily News

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Road salt harmful to native amphibians, new research shows – Binghamton University

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 9:50 pm

The combined effects of chemical contamination by road salt and invasive species can harm native amphibians, according to researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

During the winter, Binghamton and similar areas throughout the United States use a lot of salt to clear icy roads, but what effect does it have on wildlife? George Meindl, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Binghamton University, worked with a team of undergraduate students in his plant ecology course to examine how water chemistry changes due to invasive plant leaf litter leachates and road salt, and how it influences the development and survival of the native Northern leopard frog, Lithobates pipiens, and the non-native African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis.

They discovered that the non-native amphibians were more tolerant to chemical changes than the native amphibians, suggesting that the non-native amphibian species might have a competitive advantage when introduced into a new, disturbed environment.

Recently, there has been widespread chemical alteration of natural environments due to human activity, especially with the use of road salt. While road salt is commonly used to keep roads safe during the winter months, it also has negative effects on the surrounding environment and animals, according to Meindls research. Aquatic ecosystems, where frogs tend to reside, are especially susceptible to chemical changes, including those caused by road salt runoff and invasive plant species.

People are changing natural environments in many ways, so it is important that we understand how these changes affect wild populations of plants and animals, in order to better protect them, Meindl said. Using natural areas on campus, my students and I can ask how people are altering natural ecosystems, and then think of better management strategies to make sure these places arent completely degraded.

To test the environmental effects, researchers exposed the frog eggs to metal treatment solutions (i.e., calcium, potassium and manganese), which mimicked documented differences between native and invasive wetland plant species leaf tissues. Researchers first measured the amount of time it took for the eggs to hatch in solutions representing native and invasive plant leachates, and then they exposed the tadpoles to a lethal concentration of sodium chloride and recorded tadpole survival.

Essentially, researchers determined that increased metal concentrations resulted in a lower susceptibility to salt for non-native tadpoles. However, increased metal concentrations caused the native tadpoles to have a higher susceptibility to salt, causing an accelerated time to death.

Meindl and his students chose to focus on the native Northern leopard frog and the non-native African clawed frog for this research to determine whether the salt tolerance of native and non-native animals was differently affected by environmental changes caused by invasive plants.

In addition to studying how chemical contamination can affect amphibians generally, we also wanted to know if native vs. non-native amphibians would respond differently to these stressors, he said. For example, if non-native species are less likely to be negatively impacted by chemical contamination compared to native species, then contaminants might actually encourage the spread of invasive species by giving them a competitive advantage over native species, Meindl said. Perhaps not surprisingly, we found that the non-native African clawed frog was more tolerant to chemical changes compared to the Northern leopard frog, suggesting chemical contamination (e.g., due to road salts or invasive plant species) may facilitate future invasions by non-native species in aquatic ecosystems.

However, invasive species and road salts arent the only factors causing negative environmental effects, Meindl said. He hopes that the results from this study will influence people to focus more on the safety of the environment and the steps they can take to improve it.

Invasive species and road salts are just some of many ways that people are modifying the chemistry of the environment, along with extraction and burning of fossil fuels, plastic pollution, disposal of pharmaceuticals, excessive fertilizer use, etc., Meindl said. A great challenge is understanding how all of these stressors affect the natural environment, and then using this information to guide policy development that protects our planets natural resources. Studies like this will help to generate data that can guide more responsible resource use and behavior by people.

The paper, Exposure to metals (Ca, K, Mn) and road salt (NaCl) differentially affect development and survival in two model amphibians, was published in Chemistry and Ecology.

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Road salt harmful to native amphibians, new research shows - Binghamton University

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From chefs to chemists, Massachusetts burgeoning marijuana industry is creating jobs that use a wide range o – MassLive.com

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 9:50 pm

When Gene Ray was studying biology at Fisk University in Nashville, he started to use marijuana regularly. At the time, he wasnt thinking that if combined, his scientific expertise and interest in cannabis could make a career.

While studying medicinal plant extracts in Hawaii later, it was the first time Ray, a pharmaceutical chemist, thought that his skills could apply to marijuana.

I was like, oh! You could do this with weed," Ray recalled from his office at Garden Remedies cultivation facility in Fitchburg, where he is the vice president of laboratory operations.

With the burgeoning marijuana industry comes new jobs. And most everyone taking these jobs is entering the industry for the first time. From the retail floor at adult-use shops to the science behind creating products or heading up a marijuana companys human resources department, the field offers opportunities for people with a range of degrees and backgrounds.

After studying in Hawaii, Ray continued his research in South Korea and Thailand before teaching in China. A visit from a friend who was a Massachusetts native and working in the marijuana industry helped convince Ray to move to the state, where he landed in 2016, just a few months just before recreational cannabis was legalized.

At Garden Remedies, Ray jumped right into the science of marijuana and learning how to adapt his background to the industry.

My skillset was mostly working with small, small extractions and more isolations and so this was like we need to work on bulk, he recalled.

Walking through the Garden Remedies facility, Ray can break down the science of extraction into simple terms, explaining how complex machinery is used in the process of making edibles, concentrates and vapes.

In 2016, Ray made his first marijuana vape.

Ever since then, weve been trying to figure out ways to make it a little bit better and not as harsh, said Ray.

As the leader of the laboratory, Ray now spends a lot of time at his computer, arranging meetings and overseeing the process from a higher level. But he still loves to get his hands dirty in the lab.

The fact that I enjoy cannabis and the fact that I enjoy the science behind it, I enjoy motivating people to keep doing it and just to keep learning," he said. This is a natural plant. Youre going to always have growers that are going to want to push the envelope and have some crazy genetics. I want to be the person to extract those compounds.

Rays work helps create products that head to the kitchens of marijuana businesses.

Lianne Whalen, the executive chef at Cultivate Holdings, a marijuana shop in Leicester, leads a kitchen with about nine employees as of February 2020.

Those kitchens have jobs attracting culinary professionals to the marijuana industry.

After Lianne Whalen graduated in 2009 with a degree from Johnson & Wales University, she worked in catering, corporate dining and a job at a bakery. Then, she saw online that Cultivate was seeking a chef. Cultivate started as a medical dispensary and was one of the first two shops to sell recreational marijuana in November 2018.

Now Whalen is Cultivates executive chef and leads the kitchen, which currently has a staff of about nine people. Like Whalen, none of the staff had experience in the cannabis industry before coming to Cultivate. Instead, they found their way to the Leicester dispensary by the way of corporate dining, local restaurants and a bakery.

It is very much a kitchen. So Im able to translate my culinary skills to this industry because were creating products all the time by hand, in house, Whalen said. Were doing research and development, we also are launching a topical line, so were dabbling in a little bit of everything.

Whalen, who lives in Worcester, said she was always passionate about food. She grew up cooking with her grandparents and father, she said, recalling frying fish in a cast iron pan.

Ive just always loved to cook. Ive always loved to be creative. When I grew up it was either I was going to be an artist, a florist or a chef, said Whalen, who grew up in Hardwick and Worcester.

She had never worked in the marijuana industry before but knew her training from Johnson & Wales could help her bring marijuana into the kitchen. She relies on math skills for proper dosing.

Ive always been interested in food and healing people, Whalen said. The best part of my day is when someone says they ate something that I produced and they felt better, could sleep, didnt have nausea, their pain went away. Its win-win, really. Its a dream job.

Cultivate employed 30 people before recreational sales began. Currently, there are 105 employees, a spokeswoman said.

At Garden Remedies, 34 new people have been hired since September, with about 10 more openings remaining for the year, said Brooke Charron, the vice president of human resources.

Were looking for those skills that easily translate into this space," Charron said. Our culture here is very collaborative and teamwork is a huge factor when were looking at hiring."

Garden Remedies may seek specialists like chefs and for positions in finance or senior level operations. Skills from the manufacturing industry translate well, Charron said. But more so, theyre seeking individuals with the necessary soft skills, people they can train on the technical side of what happens every day at Garden Remedies.

Ive found that people that are very passionate about cannabis and the products, theyre either a grower or theyre passionate about cannabis in general in which case those people tend to lean toward retail," Charron said.

Massachusetts has been among the states to add thousands of marijuana jobs in the U.S., according to Leaflys annual Cannabis Jobs Report.

As the state passed its first anniversary of adult-use marijuana sales, 10,226 jobs were added, according to the report, which says that in total, legal cannabis has added 13,255 full-time-equivalent jobs in Massachusetts.

As of January, there were 243,700 full-time-equivalent marijuana jobs in the U.S., representing a 15% year-over-year increase. In 12 months, the industry created 33,700 new jobs nationwide, making legal marijuana the fastest-growing industry in America, according to Leafly. In addition to Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Illinois have added a significant number of jobs in the last year.

A search on indeed.com indicates cannabis jobs are available across the state, from full-time to an internship. Rates listed there range from $15 an hour to $37.50, a mix of entry-, mid- and senior-level positions.

A packaging technician at Happy Valley Management in Gloucester can make $16 an hour weighing, packaging and labeling marijuana products, according to a job posting. Also at Happy Valley Management, a trim technician can make $14 an hour harvesting, trimming, curing and drying cannabis plants. For that position, a candidate must be able to hand trim 55 grams per hour, or 1 pound per eight-hour shift, according to the job post.

Temescal Wellness is seeking a production associate who can make $14 per hour handling the day-to-day duties of a medical cannabis cultivation facility. In its job posting, Temescal touts perks like a casual dress code and volunteerism.

At Garden Remedies, entry-level positions average $16 or $17 per hour, said Charron, who said the environment of a cannabis business is worthwhile for applicants looking at several industries.

Everybody in this company is passionate about what they do and that is one common thread. Everybody has such different backgrounds but everybody is passionate about the mission and what were doing and why were here. Thats going to be the biggest difference between this and another industry," Charron said. Youre going to kind of use the same soft skills no matter what company youre in or what industry youre in but in cannabis its just a passion for the plant and what it can do.

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From chefs to chemists, Massachusetts burgeoning marijuana industry is creating jobs that use a wide range o - MassLive.com

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Are you in love or just high on chemicals in your brain? Answer: Yes – CNN

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 9:50 pm

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Are you in love or just high on chemicals in your brain? Answer: Yes - CNN

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The world’s ‘chemical diversity’ tripled in just 20 years – Futurity: Research News

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 9:50 pm

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There are 350,000 chemicals available on the market and in circulation worldwide, according to a new estimate.

The last time researchers compiled a list, it only ran to 100,000 entries.

Drawn up shortly after the turn of the millennium, the list focused on markets in the US, Canada, and western Europe. That made sense at the time because 20 years ago, these countries accounted for more than two thirds of worldwide chemical sales.

Things have changed dramatically since then, however. First, turnover has more than doubled, reaching EUR 3.4 billion in 2017. Second, the global west now participates in just a third of the worldwide chemical trade, whereas China alone accounts for 37% of turnover.

Only the manufacturers know what they are and how dangerous or toxic they are like a meal where youre told that its well cooked, but not what it contains.

We broadened our scope to take in the global marketand were now presenting a first comprehensive overview of all chemicals available worldwide, says Zhanyun Wang, senior scientist at the civil, environmental, and geomatic engineering department at ETH Zurich.

The researchers brought together data from 22 registers covering 19 countries and regions (including the EU) for the new work.

The chemical diversity we know now is three times greater than 20 years ago, says Wang.

This, he says, is primarily because the researchers are now taking into account a larger number of registers. As a result, our new list includes many chemicals that are registered in developing and transition countries, which are often with limited oversight, Wang says.

On its own, this comprehensive list cannot provide information about which chemicals are hazardous to health or the environment, for example.

Our inventory is only the first step in the substances characterization, says Wang, adding that previous work suggested that some 3% of all chemicals may be cause for concern. If you apply this figure to the new multitude of chemicals, 6,000 new potentially problematic substances could be expected, he says.

Far more astonishing for Wang was the fact that a good third of all chemicals have inadequate descriptions in the various registers. About 70,000 entries are for mixtures and polymers (such as petroleum resin), with no details provided about the individual components. Another 50,000 entries relate to chemicals where the identities are confidential business information and are therefore not publicly accessible.

Only the manufacturers know what they are and how dangerous or toxic they are, says Wang. That leaves you with an uneasy feelinglike a meal where youre told that its well cooked, but not what it contains.

Globalization and worldwide trade ensure thatunlike national registerschemicals do not stop at national borders. As Wang and his colleagues note in their article, the various registers need therefore to be merged if we want to keep track of all the chemicals produced and traded anywhere in the world.

Only by joining forces, across different countries and disciplines, will we be able to cope with this ever-expanding chemical diversity, says Wang.

The paper appears in Environmental Science & Technology.

Source: ETH Zurich

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The world's 'chemical diversity' tripled in just 20 years - Futurity: Research News

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Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory – Earth Island Journal

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Revelations have major implications for animal rights as well as public and environmental health.

Jonathan Latham

February 17, 2020

The case of an animal rights activist who infiltrated an independent German chemical testing laboratory has triggered the discovery of an apparently extensive chemical testing fraud.

LPT Hamburg, with around 175 employees, is one of the largest contract laboratories in Germany. It is a family owned private company. It prepares regulatory studies on behalf of the pharmaceutical and pesticide industries and has three locations: Mienenbttel in Lower Saxony, Neugraben in Hamburg and Wankendorf in Schleswig-Holstein.

An initial case of fraud was reported in 2019 by the German magazine FAKT, which worked with the animal rights organisations Cruelty Free International and SOKO-Tierschutz to expose the findings of the undercover employee. The disturbing irregularities they discovered included the death and replacement of animals without this being reported to authorities.

This distressing video from FAKT summarises the findings and was filmed at LPT.

But since the initial investigation by FAKT five former employees of LPT Hamburg have come forward with new information.

In interviews broadcast by FAKT in November of 2019, one employee told the magazine of testing fraud:

I not only experienced it, I did it myself. I forged documents; our studies. If the results did not meet expectations, I was asked to improve them. The data that did not fit in were marked so that I could enter it on the blank protocol the new values that were given to me. The new report was also marked with the old date and my signature

A second employee who came forward told FAKT:

These animals, especially in the high-dose group, actually had completely open skin - so it was the raw meat that was visible, miserable really miserable. [...] In fact, one animal died in the high-dose group and was replaced by another animal. Here, too, the tattoo number, which is in the chest area of the animal, was cut out of the dead animal and added to the organs of the replaced animal after the end of the study. So that it looks as if this animal had not died at all.

A third told FAKT that they had observed repeated falsification of studies and that they later reported this to the German authorities:

So, a few months after I left LPT, I contacted the responsible authorities here. And had an appointment. And in this appointment we discussed the LPT issue together. It was also about manipulation of data and of course about the fact that studies were so strongly influenced that it was not compatible with my conscience.

However, the employee never heard from the authority again.

These revelations have major implications for public and environmental health. They undermine the idea that testing by commercial laboratories is independent of the chemical industry, thereby challenging the validity of the entire system of toxicological evaluation of chemicals like pesticides and pharmaceuticals. These allegations echo previous cases of chemical testing fraud, such as the IBT scandal of the late 1970s, including the more recent realization that this fraud was covered up by the overseeing government agencies, such as the US EPA.

A further implication, according to a new report on the LPT case carried out by PAN Germany, Corporate Europe Observatory and Global 2000 of Austria, is that many of the studies supporting the EUs reapproval of glyphosate came from LPT.

According to the EUs reassessment of glyphosate, all industry-derived studies on genotoxicity concluded that glyphosate was safe, or nearly so. On the other hand, the majority of peer-reviewed studies concluded it was not. In its reauthorization process the EU agency which evaluated glyphosate concluded that the industry studies submitted were reliable and the peer-reviewed studies were not reliable. This designation cleared the way for reauthorization. At least 21 studies submitted by Monsanto supporting glyphosates reauthorization came from LPT.

The primary given reason why peer reviewed studies are deemed inadmissible by regulators is that they do not have the technical certification known as Good Laboratory Practice (GLP). GLP follows OECD guidelines which were adopted by the EU in 2004.

GLP has long been criticized as failing to guarantee high quality research (Elliott et al. 2016, Myers et al. 2009, Wagner and Michaels 2004). It has always been defended, however, on the basis that it prevented exactly this kind of fraud.

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Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory - Earth Island Journal

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