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E-M:/ Precedent setting initiative announced for designing safer chemicals

Title: Precedent setting initiative announced for designing s
Public Health and Environmental Leaders Applaud Governor's Green Chemistry Directive
Emerging Area Holds Great Promise for Clean Environment and Strong Economy

Contact:  Tracey Easthope  734-663-2400 ext. 109

Michigan public health and environmental leaders today applauded a precedent-setting initiative signed Tuesday by Governor Granholm that will make the state a national leader in the fast-growing field of green chemistry.

Granholm's Green Chemistry Executive Directive promotes safe technologies and innovations aimed at lowering health risks and preventing harmful chemical pollution at the source.

"Green chemistry is a cleaner, safer, and healthier way to make the chemicals and products that we use in our homes and businesses every day," said Tracey Easthope, Environmental Health Director of the Ecology Center, which had advocated for the last year for a Green Chemistry initiative. "Designing chemicals up front so they are safe is the wave of the future for industry, including the chemical, auto and pharmaceutical industries, and Michigan is now positioning itself to be an R&D center for this work."

In addition to the Ecology Center, the Green Chemistry Executive Directive was supported by state environmental and public health leaders, including Clean Water Fund, the Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health, which includes the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Learning Disabilities Association of Michigan and other medical and public health organizations, as well as national green chemistry leaders.

Sustainable business development experts agree.  "This is an important step forward for the development of the new economy in Michigan.  There is a potentially enormous market in Michigan for biomaterials and fuels in the auto and furniture industries.  Green Chemistry is a key strategy needed to move our state into a leadership position for the most innovative and safe technologies" said Bill Stough, CEO of Sustainable Research Group in Grand Rapids.

The Executive Directive will help the state devise strategies to promote green chemistry and engineering education, development, and the production of bio-materials, chemicals, and catalysts that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. 

 "I am deeply impressed that Governor Granholm is providing international leadership through her Green Chemistry Executive Directive," said Terry Collins, Director of the Institute for Green Oxidative Chemistry, and one of the leading green chemists in the country.   "Governor Granholm is inspiring the people of the great State of Michigan to work together to ensure that the chemical products and processes of the future are both economic winners and blessings to future generations by being compatible with the long-term welfare of living things."

"When businesses innovate by using green chemical processes, they not only can save money, but they also avoid the costs of cleaning up toxic pollutants, provide for a safer workplace, and deliver safer products to consumers," said Dave Dempsey, noted environmental author and Great Lakes policy advisor to Clean Water Fund.

According to a 2002 study conducted for the U.S. Department of Energy and the USDA, bio-based materials are estimated to grow from .5% of current production to more than 12% by 2010, and 25% by 2030. 

Research on green chemistry is already underway at Michigan Tech, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan.  Right now, Michigan businesses are testing, using, and producing bio-based materials and green chemistry processes.  For example, Interface Fabrics Group, in Kentwood, is using PLA (polylactic acid, or corn-based) fabrics.  KTM Industries, in Lansing, is using PLA packaging material, and Pfizer is manufacturing widely used drugs with green chemistry processes.

Michigan's Executive Directive is the first of its kind in the country.  While the field of Green Chemistry is very promising, public and private investment is only beginning, so Michigan has an opportunity to create industry leaders. Just two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure to increase federal funding for Green Chemistry.

Link to the Executive Directive: http://michigan.gov/gov/0,1607,7-168-36898-153806--,00.html.
For more information on how Green Chemistry is making a difference already, see http://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry/or visit the Green Chemistry Institute website

The Ecology Center is a Michigan-based environmental organization that works for a safe and healthy environment where people live, work, and play.  The Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health is a Network of health professionals and environmental groups dedicated to a safe and less toxic world for Michigan's children.