Green Chemistry (also known as sustainable chemistry) is defined as the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous and toxic substances. The goal of green chemistry is to create better, safer chemicals while choosing the safest, most efficient ways to manufacture them while reducing waste.
According to the EPA, Green Chemistry:
- Prevents pollution at the molecular level
- Is a philosophy that applies to all areas of chemistry, not a single discipline of chemistry
- Applies innovative scientific solutions to real-world environmental problems
- Results in source reduction because it prevents the generation of pollution
- Reduces the negative impacts of chemical products and processes on human health and the environment
- Lessens and sometimes eliminates hazard from existing products and processes
- Designs chemical products and processes to reduce their intrinsic hazards
Green Chemistry has 12 fundamental principles, which address a range of ways to reduce the environmental and health impacts of chemical production and indicate research priorities for the development of green chemistry technologies.
Green chemistry is beneficial to human health and the environment while still supporting economy and business growth.
Human Health: Lessening the amount of toxic chemicals in our air and water systems leads to less ingestion of these chemicals, resulting in cleaner drinking water and less damage to our bodies. The use of green chemistry allows for safer consumer products and safer foods on the markets, decreasing our exposure to toxins such as endocrine disruptors, irritants, or cancer-causing chemicals.
Environment: Green chemicals are biodegradable or are recovered and reused, resulting in less use of landfills, especially hazardous waste landfills. Plants and animals suffer less harm from toxic chemicals in the environment, and there is a decreased potential for global warming, ozone depletion, and smog formation.
Economy and Business: Green chemistry reduces waste, eliminates costly remediation, hazardous waste disposal, and end-of-the-pipe treatments. Since the chemicals are better and safer for use, less product is needed to achieve the same function. It also allows for the reduced use of petroleum products, slowing their depletion and avoiding their hazards and price fluctuations.
All of this sounds great – but what does it mean for you?
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