For Release: Wednesday, June 1, 2011
DEC Promotes Green Chemistry in New York Schools
Pollution Prevention Education and Outreach Section Awarded 2011 EPA Pollution Prevention Grant
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) today announced a grant awarded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Department's Pollution Prevention Education and Outreach Section for assistance in its campaign to promote green chemistry in New York schools.
"Green Chemistry in New York State Schools" is a continuation of DEC's initiative to reduce toxics in New York schools that began with "Mercury Management in Schools" outreach during 2005 through 2007 and the "Chemical Management in Schools" program during 2008 through 2009. By using more environmentally benign reagents and solvents, green chemistry is effective in reducing hazardous exposures affecting human health and hazardous waste disposal that might find its way into the environment.
Green chemistry asks teachers and students to consider the life cycle impacts of the chemicals they work with by promoting an awareness of chemical toxicology, highlighting concepts of sustainability and how their actions in the chemistry lab can affect the environment. By implementing green chemistry practices, teachers and students can take pride in doing chemistry in an environmentally responsible way.
DEC staff will be developing green chemistry pilot projects at four high schools, one in each of the following regions of the state: Capital District, Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. These pilot projects will include chemical inventorying and assessment, the development of a chemical hygiene plan and a green chemistry training workshop for science teachers, which will highlight the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry (Anastas, P.T.; Warner, J.C. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice. Oxford University Press: New York, 1998).
Liberty High School, a high needs rural school district located in the town of Liberty, Sullivan County, has been chosen as the Hudson Valley candidate to participate in this pilot project to manage chemicals in their high school laboratories by adopting green chemistry practices and redirecting their chemical purchasing towards less toxic chemicals. The key criteria for their selection was the needs assessment of the condition of the school's chemical management system, their willingness to participate in green chemistry training and their interest in implementing the principles of green chemistry in their curriculum for at least a full school year. The high school principal's enthusiastic support for his teachers to be involved in this project was also a deciding factor. The Sullivan County BOCES will also participate as part of the school's pilot project team.
In partnership with the state Education Department, DEC has the long-term goal of developing green chemistry curriculum resources for New York high schools that will lead to increased knowledge about green chemistry practices. This, in turn, will encourage both educators and their students to share their knowledge and promote the principles of green chemistry leading to sustained environmental protection and pollution prevention.