Green Chemistry simply means: using chemistry to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous materials.
The California Green Chemistry Initiative is where it all began. It applies to goods that are made or sold in a particular US state. The green chemistry initiatives are similar to, in particular, Design for Environment and REACH. It may be a great idea. But it has ignited a trend whereby chemicals in manufactured products are regulated at a state level. Enter Oregon.
On April 27, 2012, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a “green chemistry” executive order. It’s listed as Number 12-05 and is titled “Fostering environmentally-friendly purchasing and product design.”
So add this to your working list of US Green Chemistry laws, state by state.
This green chemistry order directs the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to coordinate a statewide toxics reduction strategy and to build general awareness in the business community about the benefits of green chemistry.
This initiative is another sequin in the Green Chemistry gown. There are many others. More US states are adopting the “green” way of developing safer and more environmentally-friendly products. The problem is that each state has its own focus, lists, and penalties.
Oregon toxic chemicals strategy
DEQ completed a draft of its Toxics Reduction Strategy in December 2011. DEQ hopes to finalize the strategy in fall 2012.
The strategy includes a list of priority toxic chemicals. Here’s the list:
Combustion & petroleum by-products:
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- Dioxins and Furans Napthalenes
Consumer product constituents:
- 4-Nonyphenol (and Nonyphenol Ethoxylates)
- Bisphenol A
- (HCH), gamma- (Lindane) 2,4-D
- Propoxur (Baygon)
- Dieldrin DDT (and metabolites)
- Chlordane (and metabolites)
- Heptachlor (& Heptachlor epoxide)
- Hexachlorocyclohexane, beta- (beta-BHC)
- Hexachlorocyclohexane, alpha- (alpha-BHC)
Flame retardants and industrial intermediates:
- Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
- Mercury (and methylmercury)
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs):
- Dichlorobenzene, 1,4- (Dichlorobenzene-p)
Oregon DEQ says it takes an integrated approach to reducing toxic chemicals and pollutants in the environment. The organization points out that chemicals can readily transfer from one part of the environment to another (e.g. mercury, which can be released to the air, deposited on the land, and run off into water bodies).
Thus, DEQ’s Toxics Reduction Strategy is a four-pronged attack:
- Making the most efficient use of agency resources by focusing on the highest-priority toxic chemicals in a coordinated way
- Implementing actions that reduce toxics at their source whenever feasible
- Establishing partnerships with other agencies and organizations to increase effective use of public and private resources
- Using environmental outcome statistics to measure the effectiveness of strategy implementation where feasible
With one more prong: The Governor’s new Green Chemistry Order.