5 June 2020 Bulletin

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SoHydrazine is a colourless, fuming oily liquid, with a strong ammonia-like odour. It is dangerously unstable and highly toxic, unless handled in a solution. It occurs naturally as a by-product of microbial nitrogen fixation, and has been found in tobacco smoke. It can also be released into the air during venting operations. Hydrazine has been classified as carcinogenic to human health. [1,2,3,4]

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Japan mulls changes to safety data sheet requirements

FThe Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare (MHLW) has discussed a raft of proposals to encourage more transparent exchange of mandatory and voluntary chemical hazard information. Materials released by the ministry ahead of a meeting today point out that substances with no legal requirement for safety data sheets (SDSs) were responsible for as many as half of all accidents involving acute toxicity from chemical exposure. The Industrial Safety and Health Act (ISHA) is the main law implementing the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals in Japan. This obliges companies to provide SDSs and labels for 673 substances and their mixtures up to certain thresholds. Although the ISHA also encourages companies to provide SDSs for other chemicals that might pose physical or health hazards, this is not a legal requirement. The ministry reports that only 60–70% of businesses regularly share hazard documents when not legally obliged to. The MHLW acknowledges that certain chemicals with potential long-term adverse health effects currently have no mandatory hazard warning requirements, including approximately 200 category 2B carcinogens, which are substances considered to be ‎”possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (Iarc). Proposals to expand the legal requirements for SDSs and labelling of chemicals were limited to substances involved in accidents from adverse reactions of improperly labelled mixtures. Voluntary action However, the MHLW is instead considering steps to promote a culture of voluntary SDS circulation among businesses in Japan, in particular among small and medium sized enterprises with fewer human resources available to manage compliance issues. The ministry has already developed model SDS documentation and labels for companies to use, which cover 3,014 substances. It now plans to expand on these resources to cover more substances, with priority given to chemicals imported or produced in Japan in large quantities. Other suggested measures include providing a budget for training and consultancy services to ensure that smaller businesses are meeting their compliance requirements. Also, SDSs and labels for transfers of consumer products, which are generally not required, might become necessary when those products are purchased in business-to-business transactions. It is also considering technology-based solutions to enable sharing of SDS documents online with QR-coded labels.


In a flash! Imagine downloading 1,000 HD movies in a split second, researchers in Australia have done it

Melbourne: Scientists have achieved the world’s fastest internet data speed, which is enough to download 1000 HD movies in a split second, using a single optical chip, an advance that can help scale up the capacity of network connections across the world. According to the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the new innovation could fast-track telecommunications capacity of countries struggling with demand on internet infrastructure. The researchers, including Bill Corcoran from Monash University in Australia, recorded a data speed of 44.2 Terabits per second (Tbps) from a single light source. This speed, the scientists said, was achieved by attaching their new device to existing fibre-optic technology, like the one used in broadband internet network. “Initially, these would be attractive for ultra-high speed communications between data centres,” Arnan Mitchell, a co-author of the study from RMIT University in Australia, said in a statement. They tested the transmission on 76.6 kilometres of optical fibres between RMIT’s Melbourne City Campus and Monash University’s Clayton Campus. The fibre loop, according to the scientists, is part of the Australian Lightwave Infrastructure Research Testbed (ALIRT) established with investment from the Australian Research Council. In the study, the researchers used their new device which replaces 80 lasers with one single piece of equipment known as a micro-comb, which is smaller and lighter than existing telecommunications hardware. They explained that it acts like a rainbow made up of hundreds of high quality invisible, infrared lasers from a single chip. Each of these lasers, the study noted, has the capacity to be used as a separate communications channel. The scientists placed the micro-comb onto ALIRT’s optical fibres and sent maximum data down each channel, simulating peak internet usage, across 4 TeraHertz (THz) of bandwidth. While this micro-comb has been used within a lab-setting, they said this is the first time it is used in a field trial. With an unprecedented number of people using the internet for remote work, socialising, and streaming during coronavirus lockdowns, the researchers said the trial reflected the normal demand for internet infrastructure in a few years’ time. “It’s really showing us that we need to be able to scale the capacity of our internet connections,” Corcoran said. Based on the results, he believes that the fibres already part of internet infrastructure in the ground may be the backbone of communications networks now and into the future. “And it’s not just Netflix we’re talking about here—it’s the broader scale of what we use our communication networks for,” he added. Corcoran said the data can be used for self-driving cars and future transportation, and it can help the medicine, education, finance and e-commerce industries, as well. David Moss, Director of the Optical Sciences Centre at Swinburne University, said micro-comb chips have become an enormously important field of research in the ten years since he co-invented them. According to Moss, micro-combs offer enormous promise for us to meet the world’s insatiable demand for bandwidth. “This work demonstrates the capability of optical micro-combs to perform in demanding and practical optical communications networks,” the scientists wrote in the study.


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