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Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry

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Green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use.

The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, originally published by current EPA Assistant Administrator Paul Anastas, Ph.D.  and John Warner, Ph.D. in Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice (Oxford University Press: New York, 1998), provide a road map for chemists to implement green chemistry.

The twelve principles are:

  1. Prevention
    It’s better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste afterwards.

  2. Atom Economy
    Design synthetic methods to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

  3. Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
    Design synthetic methods to use and generate substances that minimize toxicity to human health and the environment.

  4. Designing Safer Chemicals
    Design chemical products to affect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.

  5. Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries
    Minimize the use of auxiliary substances wherever possible make them innocuous when used.

  6. Design for Energy Efficiency
    Minimize the energy requirements of chemical processes and conduct synthetic methods at ambient temperature and pressure if possible.

  7. Use of Renewable Feedstocks
    Use renewable raw material or feedstock rather whenever practicable.

  8. Reduce Derivatives
    Minimize or avoid unnecessary derivatization if possible, which requires additional reagents and generate waste.

  9. Catalysis
    Catalytic reagents are superior to stoichiometric reagents.

  10. Design for Degradation
    Design chemical products so they break down into innocuous products that do not persist in the environment.

  11. Real-time Analysis for Pollution Prevention
    Develop analytical methodologies needed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.

  12. Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention Choose substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.

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