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December 2016

The Washington Post on Regrettable Substitutions

Harvard Professor Joseph Allen highlights the practice of swapping one hazardous chemical for another in a Washington Post op-ed. The most insidious aspect of these regrettable substitutions is that consumers often think the problem has been addressed when in reality they are being exposed to another potentially harmful chemical. This practice is worsened by the lack of ingredient disclosure requirements and an absence of safer alternatives. Read the op-ed here.

Safer Chemistry – The Year in Review

Dow DuPont Merger – The year started with big news from the chemical industry. As part of this sizable merger, Dow and DuPont sold or spun out low margin, commodity focused divisions as well as divisions dealing with potentially toxic materials.

Zika – The Zika outbreak highlights our lack of safe and effective insect repellents, especially for children and pregnant women.

Lautenberg TSCA Reform – After years of negotiations, a bipartisan majority of Congress passed legislation to reform U.S. chemical regulatory laws. This represents the first update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since it was signed into law 40 years ago. The original law was widely regarded as ineffective. The new legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency to prioritize chemicals for study and empowers the agency to protect consumers.

Flint – The unfortunate lead poisoning of the Flint water supply not only raised awareness about our ageing infrastructure but it also spurred renewed efforts to test water quality across the country, revealing the presence of lead and other potentially harmful chemicals in other parts of the country.

Perfluorinated Chemistry – Courts ruled against DuPont on several cases related to human health and environmental pollution caused by previous releases of fluorinated compounds around manufacturing facilities in the United States. These chemicals are no longer manufactured but their current substitutes from the same chemical family are found in clothing, cosmetics, and food contact packaging.

Triclosan Removed by the FDA – The FDA removed triclosan and related chemicals from antibacterial soap formulations. This news was welcomed by safer chemistry advocates and praised for addressing not only triclosan, but also other harmful chemicals from the same chemical family.

Seventh Generation acquired by Unilever – Unilever, the large European consumer products company, acquired Seventh Generation for $700 million. The announcement came after earlier reports that Unilever was in talks with Honest Co., another US-based product company focused on health and sustainability.


Lygos, a Berkeley, CA based company making bio-malonic acid in a process that eliminates the use of cyanide and chloroacetic acid raised $13 million in Series A funding led by OS Fund and IA Ventures, with participation from First Round Capital, Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund, Fifty Years, Vast Ventures, and various angel investors.

Ripple Foods, a San Francisco-based food tech start up making a milk substitute based on pea protein, founded by Adam Lowry co-founder of Method Home Products, raised a $30 million Series B funding led by Google Ventures.

Goop, an eight-year-old lifestyle brand focused on clean ingredients started byGwyneth Paltrow, raised $10 million in a Series B funding round from the venture capital firm NEA, Felix Capital and 14W Venture Partners, and will be relocated to Los Angeles, CA.

Grove Collaborative, a social enterprise, ecommerce business selling safe and sustainable home products, started by a former San Quentin inmate, raised a $3.3 million seed financing round from Mark Bell Ventures and NextView Ventures.

TexDel, a Seattle-based company making a pillowcase impregnated with natural extracts that help treat acne raised $2.1 million from Keiretsu Capital.

FRX, a manufacturer of safer flame retardants, using polymeric phosphorus chemistry, secured a $22 million Series D led by a Beijing-based investment group, to help support expansion in to China and other international markets.

P2 Science, a Connecticut-based green chemistry company active in the flavor and fragrance industry recently raised a $150,000 bridge financing round.

Lumishieldtech, a Pittsburgh, PA company commercializing a chromium-free metal coating technology raised 250,000 from angel investors.

Kalion, a Milton, MA based company raised $1 million financing. Kalion plans to make glucaric acid, a safe and biodegradable ingredient that can be used to improve paints and coatings. They are using a synthetic biology platform originally developed by MIT scientists.

Indigo Ag, a Boston MA ag-technology company specializing in the soil microbiome developing products that reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers, raised a $100 million Series C. The round was led by the Alaska Permanent Fund, with participation from previous investors, including Flagship Ventures, and members of the management and board.

Vestaron Corporation, a 15-year-old, Kalamazoo, Mi. based biological insecticide company developing peptide-based ingredients closed their Series D with 18 M raised. Investors included Pangaea Ventures Anterra Capital, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, and Open Prairie Ventures.

Agrivida Inc., a company selling enzymes for biomass processing raised $20.4 million in a Series E financing. The University of Texas Investment Management Company led the round joined by current investors ARCH Venture Partners, Cultivian Sandbox, Middleland Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Northgate Capital.


Both Walmart and Target announced in 2013 that they would adopt policies to reduce harmful chemicals in household goods. This year, Walmart reported on the results. Its chemical policy help remove about 450 million pounds of harmful chemicals from their products.

Safer Made on the Road



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