Origins, Current Status, and Future Challenges of Green Chemistry

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Acc. Chem. Res. 2002, 35, 686-694 ARTICLES Origins, Current Status, and Future Challenges of Green Chemistry† PAUL T. ANASTAS*,‡ AND MARY M. KIRCHHOFF§ White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Old Executive Office Building, Room 494, Washington, D.C. 20502, Department of Chemistry, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, U.K., and Green Chemistry Institute, American Chemical Society, 1155 Sixteenth Street N.W., Othmer Suite 330, Washington, D.C. 20036 Received February 4, 2002 ABSTRACT Over the course of the past decade, green chemistry has demon- strated how fundamental scientific methodologies can protect human health and the environment in an economically beneficial manner. Significant progress is being made in several key research areas, such as catalysis, the design of safer chemicals and envi- ronmentally benign solvents, and the development of renewable feedstocks. Current and future chemists are being trained to design products and processes with an increased awareness for environ- mental impact. Outreach activities within the green chemistry community highlight the potential for chemistry to solve many of the global environmental challenges we now face. The origins and basis of green chemistry chart a course for achieving environmental and economic prosperity inherent in a sustainable world. Introduction Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.1 Advances in green chemistry address both obvious hazards and those associated with such global issues as climate change, energy production, availability of a safe and adequate water supply, food production, and the presence of toxic substances in the environment. Alternative blowing agents replace millions of pounds of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in insulating Dr. Paul Anastas was born on May 16, 1962, in Quincy, Massachusetts. He obtained a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Brandeis University. He joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1989, serving as the Chief of the Industrial Chemistry Branch and the Director of the U.S. Green Chemistry Program. In 1999, Dr. Anastas became a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, coordinating environmental and international issues for the office. Dr. Mary Kirchhoff was born on December 26, 1954, in Chicago, Illinois. She received her B.A. in chemistry from Russell Sage College, her M.S. in chemistry from Duquesne University, and her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire. She joined the faculty at Trinity College in Washington, DC, in 1992, and spent two years as an AAAS fellow with the U.S. EPA’s green chemistry program in 1998-2000. Currently she is Assistant Director of the Green Chemistry Institute at the American Chemical Society. 686 ACCOUNTS OF CHEMICAL RESEARCH / VOL. 35, NO. 9, 2002 foams, new energy sources lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, and pesticides are designed to be more selective and less persistent than traditional organic pesticides. The challenge of sustainability will be met with new technologies that provide society with the products we depend on in an environmentally responsible manner. The activities in green chemistry research, education, industrial implementation, awards, and outreach are all based on the fundamental definition of green chemistry as stated above. The concept of “design” in the definition is an essential element in requiring the conscious and deliberative use of a set of criteria, principles, and methodologies in the practice of green chemistry. Because green chemistry is intentionally designed, it is definition- ally impossible to do green chemistry by accident. The phrase the “use or generation” implies the requirement of life-cycle considerations.2 Green chemistry can be utilized anywhere in the life cycle, from feedstock origins to beyond end of useful life. The term “hazardous” is used in its broadest context including physical (e.g., explosion, flammability), toxicological (e.g., carcinogenic, mutagenic), and global (e.g., ozone depletion, climate change). The design of environmentally benign products and processes may be guided by the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry (Figure 1).3 These principles are a categoriza- tion of the fundamental approaches taken to achieve the green chemistry goals of benign products and processes, and have been used as guidelines and design criteria by molecular scientists. Like all multiparameter systems, tradeoffs and balances will be made in striving toward optimization based on the specific circumstances of application. The current state-of-the-art in green chem- istry has been reached due to advances in research, implementation, education, and outreach over the past decade. History In the United States, the Pollution Prevention Act of 19904 established source reduction as the highest priority in solving environmental problems. Passage of this act signaled a move away from the “command and control” response to environmental issues and toward pollution prevention as a more effective strategy that focused on preventing waste from being formed in the first place. Shortly after the passage of the Pollution Prevention Act, it was recognized that a variety of disciplines needed to be involved in source reduction. This recognition extended to chemists, the designers of molecular structures and † This paper is dedicated to Dr. Roger Garrett, whose fundamental work and inspired vision provided the foundation of green chemistry. ‡ White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and University of Nottingham. § ACS Green Chemistry Institute. 10.1021/ar010065m CCC: $22.00  2002 American Chemical Society Published on Web 06/19/2002

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