Posted by Big Gav in bioplastic
WorldChanging has a post on a new book about green chemistry - Elizabeth Grossman and the Green Chemistry Revolution.
Toxic chemicals are seemingly ubiquitous. Since everything on Earth is connected, chemicals intended for one use, in one product, can easily find their way into other things, like soil, air, water and bodies. Scientists have been trying to determine where toxic chemicals are ending up, and the results are shocking: Dangerous chemicals are even being found in the blood of newborn babies.
These alarming facts are what investigative journalist Elizabeth Grossman came across while researching her latest book "Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry." While writing her previous book on the afterlife of electronics, Grossman said she became increasingly disturbed by the the amount of chemicals that were being found in our consumer products. It all began when she wanted to know why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was finding the exact same chemicals in polar bears, newborn babies and our food. After asking why, she began wondering if it was possible to do any better. Could products and the chemicals they are created from be made environmentally "benign by design"?
She decided to literally chase these dangerous molecules around the world in order to find out. Her research took her from the Arctic to the Great Lakes, to China's Pearl River Delta and numerous waste sites. It should be surprising that harmful chemicals were present at every site she visited, but it's not. What is unexpected though, is her hope. Grossman believes that there is a solution: green chemistry. Green chemists, writes Grossman, are redesigning the future and learning from nature to create new, non-harming chemicals and products.
Without green chemistry Grossman fears that we will be entering into a very dangerous world. Many of the chemicals she was chasing are endocrine disruptors, which have the ability to change our genetic makeup. They can mess with reproduction and lead to an increase in fat cells, which leads to higher rates of diabetes and slower metabolism. They have been shown to reduce sperm count and also mess with neurological function. Grossman said that without green chemistry we may end up "fat, stupid and impotent."