Protecting Public Health and the Planet Through Pollution Prevention and Green Chemistry
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
When you think about how the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention supports EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment, the first thing that might come to mind is our work to review the safety of pesticides and other chemicals. Another important aspect of our work is finding ways to stop pollution before it starts—pollution prevention—and encouraging the development of environmentally friendly products and technologies through green chemistry.
One way we do this is through the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. For 24 years, these awards have recognized innovation by American businesses and researchers that redesign chemical products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and manufacture of hazardous substances. These innovations help keep businesses globally competitive, prevent pollution at its source, and protect human health and the environment.
This year’s awards have special meaning because it’s also the 30th anniversary of the Pollution Prevention Act, which focuses industry, government, and public attention on reducing the amount of pollution through cost-effective changes in production, operation, and raw materials use. Green chemistry and pollution prevention work hand-in-hand to stop pollution at its source, resulting in less waste, economic growth, and protection of public health.
Our efforts to recognize, encourage, and speed the adoption of green chemistry have produced real results. Through 2019, Green Chemistry Challenge Award winning technologies have provided big opportunities for pollution prevention, including:
- Eliminating 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents each year—enough to fill almost 3,800 railroad tank cars or a train nearly 47 miles long.
- Saving 21 billion gallons of water each year—the amount used by 820,000 people annually.
- Eliminating the release of 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents to air each year—equal to taking 810,000 automobiles off the road.
These results are proof that the combination of green chemistry and pollution prevention can produce powerful results for public health, the environment, and the economy.
For more information on this year’s Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners, visit: www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-winners-2020-green-chemistry-challenge-awards.
About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.
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