What is Green Chemistry?
Green Chemistry is the science of making smart choices from the very beginning about the chemicals that make up the products we use every day.
Why learn about Green Chemistry?
Every product we touch, from the toothpaste we use to brush our teeth, to the upholstery we sit on in our living rooms, to the cell phone we hold to our ear, is composed of numerous chemicals. These chemicals provide the function that we demand in the products we use: carpets are stain resistant because of chemical coatings applied to their fibers; lotion is silky smooth because of the chemicals included in its formulation.
However, when it comes to our health and our environment, not all chemicals are equivalent. Poor and misinformed chemical placement in products, like phthalates in plastic toys and bisphenol-A in water bottles, has recently led to public scares about the safety of the chemicals in the products we use.
How is it possible that potentially toxic chemicals can be included in products in the first place?
The vast majority of chemists, chemical engineers, and material scientists—the people who invent, develop, and produce the chemicals and materials in the products we use—are not trained in Green Chemistry, sustainable design, or toxicology. Incredibly, our scientists are not taught to evaluate the toxicity, environmental persistence, or bioaccumulation potential of the chemicals and materials they make. They are taught how to create chemicals and materials that make our products functional, but that does not necessarily equal making our products “safe.”
How can we ensure our products provide not only the function we demand, but also the environmental performance we need, at a reasonable cost?
Scientists and engineers must have the information they need to make smarter choices. Green Chemistry provides a set of principles that guides choices about the chemicals used in the development and manufacture the products.