Northside: Challenging the Paradigms for the Selection and Use of Polymers in Environmentally Sensitive Areas
Environmental stewardship and sustainability are growing concerns around the globe and regulatory enforcement is spreading with these issues. One primary mode of enforcement is the establishment of ecotoxicological standards for chemical usage (for example biodegradation critieria). The current paradigm has been established using methods developed for wastewater treatment and consumer contact, however these lack the exposure context of oil and gas operations. These standards can be inappropriate in typical oil and gas use and nearly impossible to satisfy for polymeric materials which are widely used in the oilfield and designed to be very robust. This leads to great difficulties in achieving efficient performance and in some cases reverting to inefficient technologies or designing ways to partially achieve the regulatory intent. There should be increased flexibility to allow relevant exposure scenarios in the required testing to appropriately evaluate the environmental impact of a substance. For instance, there is evidence that exposure scenarios such as sunlight in the case of surface release is a critical factor in evaluating the degradation potential of polymeric materials in particular. Examples of these factors and some suggested methods to design and select polymeric materials in the current regulatory schemes will be discussed.
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