In the context of REACH, Socio-Economic Effect (SEE) is an approach used to describe and analyze all relevant impacts (i.e. both positive and negative effects) of imposing a restriction in use or substitution of some chemical compounds or monomers. It is appropriate to compare the chemical risks to those induced in the management due to substitution or restrictions. Generally, the SEE facilitates a systematic and comprehensive comparison of the relevant costs/benefits of continuing to use substances compared to the conditions of the proposed restriction. Furthermore, SEE may include for supporting a restriction or substitution proposal some information for the following purposes:
• 1: the significance whether the proposed restriction or substitution of some chemical compounds is the most appropriate action compared to relevant cost/benefits;
• 2: the scope of the proposed restriction or substitution;
• 3: the proposed substitution strategies in terms of: a) The net benefits to human health and the environment; b) the net costs to manufacturers, end users, consumers and society as a whole. The companies using monomers and chemical compounds usually start a consultation with the supply chain for the maintenance of production level by using some alternative monomer compounds, involving fundamental studies on their chemical-physical properties without no loss in and reactivity and/or durability usually applied by end users. In past years many reports considered the restriction of styrene monomer and the formaldehyde, although these compounds are not present in the candidate list as required by annex XV of REACH regulation, even if these compounds are not present in the candidate list.
In the last decade many European companies involved in the production of coatings, inks, composites, adhesives and polymer blends have explored some commercially available alternatives to replace styrene monomer or formaldehyde. These project is based on the assumption that itaconic acids and its derivatives, to synthesize unsaturated polyesters and unsaturated monomers (di-alkylesteres) are valid and sustainable alternative to styrene monomers and formaldehyde. It is very important noting that:
a) in 1993 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified styrene in group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans).
IARC concluded that there was no convincing evidence for carcinogenic action of styrene in animals based on the animal studies which existed at that time;
b) formaldehyde is Classified A2 (Suspected for human.) by ACGIH, 2A (Probable for human.), mutagenic for mammalian somatic cells and for bacteria and/or yeast.
The aim of the project proposal is to synthesize unsaturated polyesters for replacing the styrene with IA monomer derivatives for the coatings and polymer matrix fiber glass reinforced composites and for avoiding the phenol -formaldehyde resins in the abrasive field. Furthermore, the chemical properties and reactivity of IA based polyesters and monomers can be applied in some applications for the preparation of thermo- and UV-curable mixtures or polyolefin modification for food packaging applications. The IA-based monomers and derivatives can represent a valid alternative for industrial scale substitution of styrene and formaldehyde providing a sustainable cost for manufactures and end user of new polymers and monomers with great benefits to human health and environment.