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At ACS' national meeting, global initiative set to tackle water issues

NEW ORLEANS, April 7, 2008 The Global Innovation Imperatives (Gii) project swung into motion Sunday with experts gathering for their first session at the American Chemical Societys (ACS) 235th national meeting in New Orleans. Gii, a joint collaboration between the ACS Committee on Corporation Associates and the Society of Chemical Industry, seeks to combat worldwide health, environmental and societal issues by developing science-based solutions, particularly those relating to chemistry.

With Gii, it is our intent to be a global leader in addressing through chemistry the challenges facing the world, said Thomas H. Lane, President-Elect of ACS and co-host during the session. Managing such a challenge is going to require interdisciplinary strategies, Lane said, including help from leaders in industry, academia and the government.

Another focus of Gii is to help advance chemistry and other branches of science by sharing breakthrough technologies that surface through research and development, said Edward G. Means, III, the sessions keynote speaker and Vice President of Malcolm Pirnie, an environmental consulting firm based in New York. The Gii program will be supported globally by conferences, web-based communities, action-oriented meetings and awards.

One of the most pressing issues for chemistry that faces the global community and the first imperative chosen for the Gii program is water, especially from the standpoint of cleanliness, availability and sustainability, Means said. Even advanced cultures have potentially troubling issues with water. Demand is increasing for one. In the United State alone, the population is projected to increase to 363 million by 2030, which is problematic for areas already facing water shortages. Alternative supply sources are becoming increasingly scarce as certain species are protected, such as endangered freshwater mussels. Another issue is aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced, requiring newer, better materials.

Accurately assessing risk of chemicals in public drinking water remains a large issue as well, Means said. This lack of trust in tap water has led to an explosion in the bottled water industry, which drains energy resources for the manufacture of plastic and product transportation. Some bottled water, Means said, is no different than regular tap water.

Right now, water is not highly valued unless people dont have it or unless its contaminated, Means said. But the idea of full-cost pricing, which reflects the total cost of water treatment and delivery, could help to create sustainability because it might cause the public to view it differently. In other words, Means said, the more people pay for water, the less likely they are to waste it.

Other speakers at Sundays session were Andrew Ladds, Chief Executive of The Society of Chemical Industry; Roslyn White, chair, ACS Committee on Corporation Associates; and Robert Rich, ACS assistant secretary.

Giis next session on water is in June in New Delhi, India, followed by sessions in Philadelphia, Pa., in August and Shanghai, China, in October. Over the next few years, it will address other important international issues such as waste management and energy technology. Giis roots began 18 months ago as a collaborative effort between Ladds and Madeleine Jacobs, Executive Director and CEO of ACS.


Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society

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