PULLMAN, Wash. - A more holistic, less piecemeal roadmap for the use of chemicals in the state is the goal of research, industry and government leaders who will gather this week in the state's first green chemistry conference.
"We are very good at our chemistry, but we are not always good at understanding the effects of our chemistry,'' said Dave Sjoding, renewable energy specialist for the WSU Extension Energy Program.
The conference, May 25-26 at the Boeing Longacres facility in Renton, is sponsored by the Washington State Green Chemistry Roundtable, a partnership of Washington State University, the Department of Ecology, Department of Commerce, Boeing, the Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center and the Bullitt Foundation.
Environmental, economical balance
The idea of green chemistry came about in the early 1990s with the aim of developing chemicals that are less toxic for people and the environment, yet also are economical. Some of the principles of green chemistry include: using catalysts to increase yields of the most desired product while using minimal energy; preventing development of harmful byproducts; designing safer chemicals and solvents; designing for energy efficiency; and using feedstocks from renewable resources whenever possible.
"There is growing recognition that you can do things in ways that have a small environmental impact and that advance the economy simultaneously. Doing so, however, takes careful thought,'' said Jim Petersen, director of WSU's Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.
In Washington, 66 chemicals are considered toxic and are carefully and extensively regulated, Sjoding said.
Improving education, research
Removing nasty chemicals from the environment generally has been done on a piecemeal basis.
From taking lead out of gasoline to cleaning up mercury to creating regulations for a fire-protectiv
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Washington State University