Green Chemistry, Oregon

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:

  1. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  2. Dioxins and Furans Napthalenes

Consumer product constituents:

  1. Phthalates
  2. Triclosan
  3. 4-Nonyphenol (and Nonyphenol Ethoxylates)
  4. Bisphenol A
  5. DEET


  1. Diazinon
  2. Chlorpyrifos
  3. Atrazine
  4. Trifluralin
  5. Chlorothalonil
  6. Malathion
  7. Permethrin
  8. Carbaryl
  9. Pentachlorophenol
  10. Diuron
  11. Glyphosate
  12. Hexachlorocyclohexane
  13. (HCH), gamma- (Lindane) 2,4-D
  14. Propoxur (Baygon)
  15. Pendamethalin

Legacy pesticides:

  1. Dieldrin DDT (and metabolites)
  2. Chlordane (and metabolites)
  3. Aldrin
  4. Methoxychlor
  5. Heptachlor (& Heptachlor epoxide)
  6. Hexachlorocyclohexane, beta- (beta-BHC)
  7. Hexachlorobenzene
  8. Hexachlorocyclohexane, alpha- (alpha-BHC)

Flame retardants and industrial intermediates:

  1. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
  2. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
  3. Ammonia


  1. Mercury (and methylmercury)
  2. Copper
  3. Cadmium
  4. Chromium
  5. Arsenic
  6. Lead
  7. Nickel
  8. Manganese
  9. Silver

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs):

  1. Tetrachloroethylene
  2. Benzene
  3. Ethylbenzene
  4. Trichloroethylene
  5. Dichlorobenzene, 1,4- (Dichlorobenzene-p)
  6. Toluene
  7. Formaldehyde

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.

Green Chemistry Status in California and All US States

Green Chemistry simply means: using chemistry to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous materials. Below, we’ve provided a table itemizing which states have stages of green chemistry laws implemented.  Just scroll down.  We all need an overview sometimes.  You can download the Green Chemistry Status pdf version here.

The California Green Chemistry Initiative may be a great idea, but it started an environmental regulatory trend whereby the state regulates chemicals in manufactured products. It applies to goods made or sold in the state. The green chemistry initiatives are similar to, in particular, DfE or Design for Environment and REACH. Often, Green Chemistry focuses on children’s products. This sparks the public interest, makes legislation easier to pass, and let’s face it, it appears children are more vulnerable and susceptible to the maleffects of toxic substances, largely because of toxic attacks on youth in critical developmental stages.

Would it be ideal to have Green Chemistry be some kind of standard at the federal level? Absolutely. Manufacturers, associations, regulatory bodies and the public agree on that. In theory. But then you get the politics, infighting, lobbying, special interest groups on both the left and right — and we’re back to state and local regulations. Of course these are all different, in different stages of implementation. This spells disaster for manufacturers trying to abide by the law.

To solve the problem, we’ve created an up to date Status Table that shows the status of Green Chemistry laws, state by state.

If you have trouble seeing the table below, view and print a high-resolution pdf version. Data are current as of December 2010.

Reuters recently ran an article that pointed out:

“In addition to the health and environmental safety of these greener chemicals, green chemistry brings a competitive advantage to companies:

1. Less risk of product recalls and potential damage to company reputation
2. Cost savings gained when hazardous materials are removed to reduce the costs associated with handling, transportation, disposal and compliance of hazardous materials
3. Improved chances of greater stakeholder engagement from customers, employees, managers, and investors are achieved when a company demonstrates initiatives to reduce their negative impact on the environment
4. Cost savings from greater efficiencies in manufacturing process.”