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For Release: Friday, January 20, 2012

DEC, Siena College Host Green Chemistry Workshop for Science Teachers in the Capital Region

Event to Help Reduce Hazardous Materials in the Classroom

High school science teachers from around the Capital Region today participated in a hands-on training on the principles of green chemistry provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at Siena College in Loudonville, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

Using green chemistry encourages teachers and students to consider the life cycle of the chemicals they work with and promotes awareness of chemical toxicology, focusing on sustainability and how actions in the chemistry lab can impact the environment.

"By implementing green chemistry practices, teachers and students can take pride in learning about and conducting chemistry in an environmentally responsible way that reduces the amount of hazardous materials in the classroom," Commissioner Martens said.

Siena College is one of the few institutions of higher learning in the state offering green chemistry coursework. Siena's chemistry department has successfully replaced conventional chemistry experiments with equivalent green chemistry experiments that increase the students' awareness of chemical safety and eliminate or reduce environmental hazards.

"Green chemistry is an ideal educational tool," said Siena Chemistry Lecturer Michael O'Brien. "It encourages students to evaluate chemical reactions and find more environmentally benign alternatives. The process fosters critical thinking skills while reducing environmental impact and waste production in the laboratory setting."

This is the second green chemistry workshop offered to science teachers as part of the DEC's Green Chemistry for New York State High Schools pilot program, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The first green chemistry workshop was held in October in Liberty, Sullivan County. Twenty-five science teachers from 19 school districts and 11 counties from the Hudson Valley region attended the workshop.

Schalmont High School in Rotterdam, Schenectady County, was chosen by DEC as the Capital District's pilot program school candidate. This choice was based on a chemical management needs assessment and the science teachers' willingness to embrace and implement green chemistry for one school year.

"Promoting and using non-toxic chemicals just makes sense," Schalmont High School's Science Department Chair Adam Labuda said. "By implementing green chemistry practices, we'll be promoting environmentalism with our students while fostering their environmental conscience."

DEC is planning two additional green chemistry workshops, one on Long Island this fall and one in New York City in the fall of 2013. For more information about green chemistry, visit DEC's website.

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