Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Green Chemistry interlude for all to read (yes, you)

Well, I'm trying to cut back on the chemistry writing, but it is in my blood (yours too!). So, check out this blog and the comments (including mine!). Enough with the exclamation points, already!

The following editorial is designed to be readable by anyone, not just technically-trained experts:

Green chemistry is a very valuable, in fact critically important, field of research, and it has already contributed enormously to reducing pollution. Although there are a number of guiding principles that are a standard reference in the field, one key and accessible part of this research is the idea that "it is better to avoid creating pollution in the first place than to have to clean it up afterwards". The thing is, this is completely possible, NOW, and has already been done in many cases. So, this isn't an example of science claiming breakthroughs but then saying that "they might be useful in about 10 years", it is helping today.

In the USA, Green Chemistry has been greatly helped by the EPA and by pioneers such as the late Joe Breen and the indefatigable Paul Anastas, both of whom worked at the EPA in their careers. However, it is a fully-international field of endeavor, with the U.K., Italy, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea and China being just a few examples of the many countries involved. Much can be learned from the pages of Green Chemistry, the Royal Society of Chemistry journal. In the interests of full disclosure, I used to be an Associate Editor and member of the Editorial Board for this journal (no monetary compensation is associated with my mentioning it, however).

The European Union (EU) has been another leader in Green Chemistry, both via research, funding, and by tightening environmental regulations. See comments from the University of York scientist, James Clark. The American Chemical Society and its Green Chemistry Institute also help lead and promote the field. These links will take you to more of the story.

COMMENTS WELCOME (non-technical questions are especially welcome).

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