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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 8, pp. 1231-1236

Implementing green chemistry. An environmental policy for sustainability

Joe Thornton

Columbia Earth Institute, Columbia University #2430, New York, NY 10027, USA

Abstract: A diverse cocktail of synthetic chemicals is now globally distributed in the environment, food web, and human tissues, posing significant health risks to humans and wildlife. The current approach to environmental regulation is inherently inadequate to address the scope and complexity of this problem. A fundamental shift in paradigm is required to protect human health and ecological systems from chemically induced damage. The concept of green chemistry represents a critical part of this shift, but it is not sufficient per se. Only if green chemistry is conceived as part of a new policy based upon precautionary, democratically guided implementation of sustainable production technologies will it contribute significantly to establishing an ecologically compatible production base.