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Green Chemical Potential

OPB | July 8, 2011 9:25 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:19 p.m.

This week Portland State University released a white paper (pdf) on Oregon’s potential to be a leader in green chemistry. Green chemistry is pretty much what you might guess — creating chemicals that do not harm the environment or human health.

With Oregon’s green reputation, you might think leading green chemistry would be be well underway. But PSU’s Jennifer Allen says there’s any number of challenges, like state and local agencies not necessarily being in alignment and the fact that relatively few of the 84,000 chemicals “produced, processed or imported for commercial purposes in the U.S. have been studied for health and environmental impacts.”

Elizabeth Grossman, author of Chasing Molecules, says we shouldn’t just be thinking about how the chemist goes about creating a green chemical, we should also be thinking about how chemists are educated in the first place. She says right now, many chemistry programs don’t require their students to take classes in ecology, for example.

Do you use chemicals in your business? What chemicals do you wish there were a green version of? As a consumer, would you pay more for products made with green chemical?

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