Safer for Human Health
Wherever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.

Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen so as to minimise the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions and fires.

(Green Chemistry Principles, Dr. Paul Anastas et al)

People have always been surrounded by naturally occurring toxins in the environment, but industrial development and the advent of the chemical industry added to these hazards. Though early industry was fairly unregulated, companies must now comply with many regulations in order to continue to be licensed to operate.

photo: toadstools contain toxins

Some changes to practice have been in response to major disasters, but many more are the result of risk assessment and research into safer alternatives undertaken by the chemical industry.

Risk

Risk is a combination of two factors:

· the probability that something will happen
· the consequences when it does

For example, when a child tries to ride a bicycle for the first time, the probability that they will fall off is quite high, but the injury they may sustain will (hopefully!) be fairly minor. This is not considered a high-risk venture.
Similarly, flying as a passenger in an aeroplane is considered to be low-risk. In this case the consequence of a crash would be very serious, but the probability of it happening is statistically very low.
For a more detailed explanation of risk, see the Risk-Ed web site
link to risk-ed website

 


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