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Rachel Carson Legacy Conference Investigates ‘Green Chemistry’

What’s in your cleaning cupboard?

It could be chemical products that reduce or eliminate hazardous substances in the environment.

Green Chemistry: Solutions for a Healthy Economy is the focus of the second annual Rachel Carson Legacy conference, which will gather at Duquesne University’s Power Center for the daylong event on Saturday, Sept. 20, starting at 8 a.m. Scientists, business leaders, government officials and consumers will discuss “green” or sustainable chemistry, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Keynote speaker will be Paul Anastas, Ph.D., professor in the practice of green chemistry at Yale University. In the 1990s, Anastas, who is known as the father of green chemistry, developed the 12 principles of green chemistry with Dr. John C. Warner, creating the foundation for the EPA’s Green Chemistry Program. The program has been a catalyst for growth in national and international conversation about green chemistry, research and leadership activities.

“With renewed emphasis on environmental concerns and sustainability, this conference provides a means for all of those interested in green chemistry, from health effects to economic impact, to discuss issues of critical importance to families, scientists, academics and business owners,” said Dean David Seybert of the Duquesne University Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, a co-host for the event along with Duquesne’s Center for Environmental Research and Education.

Research shows a very real connection between health and long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, said Patricia DeMarco, Ph.D., executive director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association, which initiated the conference.

“Not to be overlooked is the effect toxic consumer products can have on the environment,” DeMarco said. “For instance, every time we clean our bathrooms, solvents—phosphates that deplete oxygen and glycols that act like anti-freeze—
are washed down the drain and into our rivers and other bodies of water.”

Informed consumers will make better choices when offered healthier options, within a degree of price elasticity, according to the Homestead, which works to increase consumer awareness and, in turn, drive a change in the marketplace.

“In the United States, supermarket giants Wal-Mart and Kroger have pledged to have rBST-free milk, which is milk free of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, because of consumer preference,” DeMarco said. “Two of the major cleaning product companies, Clorox and S. C. Johnson, have introduced green choices to their product lines.”

To learn more about green chemistry or the upcoming conference, visit www.rachelcarsonhomestead.org. Tickets for the conference are $25 for adults and $10 for college students. Admission for high school students is free.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.