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Lesson Three: Applying the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry

Module One: The Metrics of Green Chemistry


The following questions are meant to give you an idea of this module's primary learning objectives.  If you feel comfortable answering the questions without reviewing your notes, then you are on your way to understanding the content of this module.

  • Why do we need principles or guidelines of any kind when it comes to green chemistry?  What practical purpose do they serve?
  • What are some problems we encounter if we fail to think ahead when designing chemicals and chemical processes?
  • What advantages are there to thinking ahead?
  • How does it help to look at a life cycle of a chemical when considering ways to make chemical products that are more sustainable?
  • Give some examples of what sustainability might mean to a chemist, a business, a consumer, and others.  How do their viewpoints differ?  Can there be common ground?

Creative Thinking Challenges

These questions will help you think about the issues explored in this module at a deeper level. Please explore them.

  1. What is the difference between green chemistry and conventional chemistry? How could green chemistry affect your life? Based on what you learned from Module 1, explain the basic concept of green chemistry to your colleagues.
  2. Based on your expertise, think about how green chemistry could improve your field.
  3. Go to the Toxic Release Inventory on the U.S. EPA website. Find the toxic chemical releases for your city or town for the most recent reporting year.
    • What is the total amount of releases?
    • How are these releases distributed in the air, water and land?
    • What is the single largest chemical by weight released?
    • What industry/company released the most waste?
  4. It is important to be able to find toxicological information for substances you may come into contact with.  For this assignment, visit EPA’s ACToR database, and search for information about the acute and chronic toxicity of the largest chemical by waste released in your hometown (from question 3 above). Write a short summary of the toxic endpoints.  If you cannot find any information on that particular chemical, you may use benzene instead.
  5. Briefly describe a story from this week news that is particularly relevant to Green Chemistry.  What is the concern?  How have Green Chemistry principles addressed the problem (or how might they)?

If you have completed this Review, and are ready to take the Quiz for this module, please click on the "Quiz" button in the menu on the right of this page. If you aren't taking this course for credit, or wish to skip the Quiz, then click the "Next" button below to go on to the next module.