Green Chemistry: Addressing Toxicity of Chemicals
Many people don't realize, myself included, that conventional chemistry doesn't address the toxicity of chemicals. Ask a chemist with a Ph.D for a definition of mercuric sulfide and he or she will be able to tell you everything about that chemical. The atoms that form the molecule; the molecular structure of the chemical, the boiling point, freezing point, and much more. But ask the same specialist how toxic is mercuric sulfide and chances are, he or she is clueless.
Industrial chemicals in our daily lives come from detergents, soaps, lotions, cosmetics, aftershave, nail polish, fabric softeners, stain resistant upholstery, flame retardant interior furnishings, wrinkle resistant clothes, pesticides, herbicides, drain cleaners, and in countless other consumer goods.
All the industrial chemicals in consumer goods were created in chemical labs designed to produce chemicals that are functional and convenient. Safety was not a priority in the search for emulsifiers, surfactants, solvents, degreasers, preservatives, coloring, fragrance holders, humectants, that can be mass produced cheaply, to be used in the design, manufacture, and disposal of all kinds of consumer goods.
Is there any wonder why we find ourselves surrounded by mutagenic, hormone-disrupting, carcinogenic industrial chemicals that show up in our urine and blood if we get ourselves biomonitored?
This is exactly why green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, is a rising and extremely important field of study.
It focuses on and examines the toxic levels of chemicals in a way that traditional chemistry doesn't. Putting safety as a priority, Green chemistry designs products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or production of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, use, and disposal.
In short, green chemistry nips toxicity at its very source: at the point of creation, and also at its end, the disposal of substances.Continued on the next page