Better Great Lakes Through Chemistry

What do most of the 37 Great Lakes Areas of Concern have in common? A legacy of toxic chemicals, which are extremely expensive to cleanup. Today at the HOW Conference, we heard from policy professionals about opportunities to use “Green Chemistry” to make the products we use in our daily lives safer for people and the environment.

Green Chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. Dr. Lin Kaatz Charry gave a great presentation on “Green Chemistry 101” and encouraged participants to get involved in the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Network, which holds monthly webinars and is planning a 2012 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference in Chicago, IL.

Darrel Gerber from Clean Water Action let us know about some successful efforts on the green chemistry at the state-level in his home state of Minnesota. Notably, 2009 was a big year for advocates in that state, with advocates successfully convincing the legislature there to pass a BPA ban in baby bottles and sippy cups. Additionally, Minnesota passed the Toxic Free Kids Act.

At the federal level, Alexis Bilzman from the Ecology Center and the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health discussed current efforts to update the Toxic Substances Control Act. Senator Lautenberg has introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847) to do just that. He has garnered a number of co-signers on the bill, but so far Senators Stabenow and Levin have not signed-on.

Want to do more to support these Green Chemistry efforts? Contact your U.S. Senators and encourage them to co-sign S. 847, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.

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