LVM's Environmental Action Blog

The purpose of this blog is to convey the importance that life choices and daily decisions have on the environment. I will, as a member of the kayaking community, effectively convey the importance and immediacy of environmental issues written in the paddling vernacular.

Monday, February 14, 2005

green chemistry: the ultimate in reducing, recycling, and reusing

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A movement is beginning to pick up speed around the world of chemistry: green chemistry. Green chemistry may not sound that exciting or relevant to you now, but has huge impacts, especially (but not limited to) the health of rivers. Chemistry plays a major role in our every day lives: from the dyes on our shirts to the detergent with which we wash them to the pills we take to make ourselves feel better about our wardrobes; chemical processes are all around us all the time.

12 Principles of Green Chemistry
(Anastas, P. T.; Warner, J. C. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press: New York, 1998, p.30. By permission of Oxford University Press)

1. Prevention
It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.

2. Atom Economy
Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

3. Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.

4. Designing Safer Chemicals
Chemical products should be designed to affect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.

5. Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries
The use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.

6. Design for Energy Efficiency
Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.

7. Use of Renewable Feedstocks
A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.

8. Reduce Derivatives
Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.

9. Catalysis
Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.

10. Design for Degradation
Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.

11. Real-time analysis for Pollution Prevention
Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.

12. Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention
Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.

Chemical factories release effluent into the rivers of every state in the union. Of course this effluent is regulated by state and federal standards, but we, the people, can take it one step further. Putting our money in support of green chemical companies:
Seventh Generation
Pfizer Pharmaceuticals :specifically Zoloft is manufactured using green chemistry principles
Ecos Organic Paints

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