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First Washington green chemistry conference aims to plan for toxics

e chemical in children's pajamas, the trajectory has been similar: Chemists come up with new chemicals that help society only to later discover health or environmental effects. Scientists do some studies. People get upset and worried, and then regulators argue for awhile before making new regulations.

"We have to address these issues more than one at a time,'' said Sjoding. "We need to re-think how we do chemistry.''

At the conference, researchers will discuss ways to improve education and where research efforts should be focused.

Petersen aims to have chemical engineering students taught to think proactively about green chemistry and engineering principles. Many courses implicitly cover green chemistry concepts, but the researchers would like to encourage a more careful thought process.

"If you do 'green chemistry' right, it's less expensive and creates jobs, while reducing environmental impacts - all of which are good,'' Petersen said.

Helping industry

The conference also will include discussions about how some industries are developing safer products and materials and how to provide incentives. A number of companies have started initiatives in green chemistry on their own, but the efforts have been isolated, said Sjoding.

"This is the first time that a group of people interested in green chemistry have sat down together in Washington,'' he said.

By the end of June, the group will develop a draft plan for green chemistry in the state, which can eventually be used by industry, government and education leaders in their decision-making.

"This is a very important first step,'' he said.


Contact: Tina Hilding
Washington State University

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