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Greener Alternatives

The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry


The aim of green chemistry is to reduce chemical related impact on human health and virtually eliminate contamination of the environment through dedicated, sustainable prevention programs. Green chemistry searches for alternative, environmentally friendly reaction media and at the same time strives to increase reaction rates and lower reaction temperatures.

The green chemistry concept applies innovative scientific solutions to solve environmental issues posed in the laboratory. Paul T. Anastas, an organic chemist working in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxins at the EPA, and John C. Warner developed the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry in 1991. These principles can be grouped into "Reducing Risk" and "Minimizing the Environmental Footprint."

It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.

Atom Economy
Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment..

Designing Safer Chemicals
Chemical products should be designed to affect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.

Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries
The use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.

Design for Energy Efficiency
Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.

Use of Renewable Feedstocks
A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.

Reduce Derivatives
Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.

Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.

Design for Degradation
Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.

Real-time analysis for Pollution Prevention
Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.

Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention
Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.