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Contributed by David Constable, Ph.D., Science Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


DSC_1090-2.jpgI have just returned from almost two weeks in India, where I had the privilege of participating in several conferences and workshops. Traveling to India makes for a long trip, but I am always very deeply appreciative of the tremendous hospitality, generosity and respect shown to me by our Indian colleagues; it is very humbling. I have been in India twice this year, and without question, it seems as though green chemistry progress is accelerating in India. This is cause for tremendous optimism given the environmental conditions that are a consequence of rapid industrialization and the fact that few pollution controls have been rigorously enforced in years past. Participation, interest and enthusiasm for green chemistry among government participants, industry colleagues, and academics provides strong evidence of a deep commitment to making lasting changes.


The first conference and workshop I participated in was in New Delhi, arranged by Professor Rakesh Sharma of the University of Delhi. The conference theme was “Advancing Green Chemistry:  Building a Sustainable Tomorrow” and was largely attended by the academic community in and around New Delhi. Professor Sharma is and has been a tireless supporter and promoter of green chemistry in India since 2001, and he continues to take every opportunity to convene conferences and workshops across India. I am always impressed when he presents the history of his promotion of and involvement in green chemistry over the past 14 years through a succession of conferences, symposia, workshops, television appearances and print media.


A workshop on the second day of the conference was focused on teachers and providing hands-on experience with the green chemistry experiments Prof. Sharma, Dr. Indu Sidhwani and Dr. M.K. Chaudhari have recently published. The level of enthusiasm for green chemistry among students and teachers is nothing less than amazing.


The second conference I had the privilege of participating in was IGCW 2017 in Mumbai. This was my fourth time at IGCW, and it was even more successful than the previous IGCW conferences I have attended. Nitesh Mehta, Badresh Padia and Krishna Padia are business partners (Newreka), founders of the Green ChemisTree Foundation, and conveners of the IGCW.  It is hard for me to convey the degree of their commitment to green chemistry and engineering, but the vision they have had for green chemistry and engineering in India has sustained them through some very difficult times for their business and less successful conferences in past years. I know of no other company in the world that even comes close to the extent of their personal commitment to advancing green chemistry and engineering, and I am truly inspired by what they have accomplished.

European businesses, in addition to Indian businesses, members of the Pollution Control Board, academics, and senior government officials were all present, with over 300 registered participants for the two-day conference and workshops.


On the Saturday and Sunday following the conference, the Green ChemisTree foundation and the ACS sponsored green chemistry workshops for students at the National College for Teachers and at Sumaiya Vidyavihar University. I had the privilege of speaking several times at both these events and was tremendously impressed by the level of engagement and excitement on the part of teachers and students. I can honestly say that I have never experienced this kind of excitement and commitment outside of India – truly impressive and a cause for great optimism that India will address its many sustainability challenges in the future.


Later on, we also visited two companies, Lupin and Hikal, both of which are generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, contract manufacturing/research companies. At both companies we were able to meet with and make presentations to a large portion of their process chemists about green chemistry opportunities in pharmaceutical manufacturing operations and the benefits of being a part of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable. Once again, it was great to interact with a highly engaged group of chemists and chemical engineers!



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What better place than the classroom for green chemistry – the “field open for innovation, new ideas, and revolutionary progress” – to flourish? In the years since its inception, green chemistry has been increasingly implemented in undergraduate chemistry education. In an effort to honor the hard work and dedication of ACS Student Chapters who show outstanding interest in the discipline, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) partnered with the ACS Education Division in 2001 to initiate Green Chemistry Student Chapter Awards.


The awards, granted to only four student chapters in the 2001-2002 academic year, are now regularly awarded to over 50 student chapter winners across the country annually. This year, we celebrate 53 student chapters who have used their creativity and resources to show their commitment to sustainable chemistry by completing three or more green chemistry outreach activities.


Activities that qualify for eligibility must emphasize an understanding of green chemistry — anything from hosting a lecture at your school to planning a green chemistry scavenger hunt in your community. Here are a few additional standout examples of green chemistry activities that some of our 2016-2017 Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award Winners completed:


  • Gordon College students worked with other student chapters in the Northeast region to coordinate an Earth Day event sponsored by ACS at the Museum of Science in Boston. There, they hosted interactive demonstrations, using M&Ms to explain E-factor and cabbage juice to explain pH, to show local families how green chemistry “feeds the world.” They also conducted similar demonstrations in a STEM fair at a local K-12 school district in Ipswich, Massachusetts.


  • University of New England students organized a lecture by green chemistry founder John C. Warner and performed an “Ecovative Material” activity in advance, showcasing the benefits of sustainable alternatives to nonrenewable resources. Several club members also traveled with an advisor to the Warner Babcock Institute in Massachusetts for the Green Chemistry Innovation Workshop, where they toured the facility, networked with other visiting student groups, and learned about advances in green chemistry from chemists working in the space themselves.


  • University of California-Los Angeles students dissected the chemicals in store-bought cosmetics that pose harmful effects to human health and the environment, and encouraged event participants to join them in making their own alternative, eco-friendly beauty products – including a raw sugar and strawberry face scrub, a green tea and coconut oil face scrub and an oatmeal and honey face mask – that they could take home with them. They also presented on the chemistry of composting.


  • University of Tennessee at Martin ACS Student Chapter students, called SMACS, joined forces with a local Boy Scout troop in West Tennessee to host a Merit Badge Workshop where scouts learned about the importance of green chemistry and chemistry at-large, and engaged in various experiments. The SMACS have been hosting this workshop for nearly 30 years, but only recently have its demonstrations incorporated innovative green chemistry techniques to eliminate waste and more.


The full list of 2016-2017 academic year Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award winners are:


Alvernia University Student Chapter

Angelo State University Student Chapter

Central Michigan University Student Chapter

City Colleges of Chicago Wilbur Wright College Student Chapter

Duquesne University Student Chapter

Erskine College Student Chapter

Gordon College Student Chapter

Henderson State University Student Chapter

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Student Chapter

Inter American University of Puerto Rico Ponce Campus Student Chapter

Inter American University of Puerto Rico San German Campus Student Chapter

Miami University Student Chapter

Midland College Student Chapter

Mississippi College Student Chapter

Missouri State University Student Chapter

Northeastern University Student Chapter

Pace University Student Chapter

Ramapo College of New Jersey Student Chapter

Saginaw Valley State University Student Chapter

Saint Francis University Student Chapter

Saint Louis University Student Chapter

Salt Lake Community College Student Chapter

Santa Monica College Student Chapter

Simmons College Student Chapter

South Texas College Student Chapter

Tarleton State University Student Chapter

Tennessee Technological University Student Chapter

The College of New Jersey Student Chapter

The Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico Student Chapter

Tuskegee University Student Chapter

Union University Student Chapter

United States Merchant Marine Academy Student Chapter

University of Alabama at Birmingham Student Chapter

University of California-Davis Student Chapter

University of California-Los Angeles Student Chapter

University of California-San Diego Student Chapter

University of Central Arkansas Student Chapter

University of Connecticut Student Chapter

University of New England Student Chapter

University of Northern Iowa Student Chapter

University of Pittsburgh Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico at Cayey Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon Campus Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus Student Chapter

University of Saint Thomas Student Chapter

University of Tennessee at Martin Student Chapter

University of Texas at Tyler Student Chapter

University of Toledo Student Chapter

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Chapter

Waynesburg University Student Chapter

West Virginia State University Student Chapter


If your student chapter is registered for the upcoming Program-in-a-Box, “Chemistry Rocks! Exploring the Chemistry of Rocks and Minerals,” on October 24, 2017, please note that this does count as one of your green chemistry activities for the next awards in 2018.


There is also an exciting opportunity for student chapter leaders to share their teams’ successes with the broader chemistry community at the next ACS National Meeting in New Orleans. ACS GCI and Beyond Benign will be partnering to host the session “Green Chemistry Student Chapters: Stories of Success.” We encourage students interested in participating to submit an abstract to highlighting your team’s work in green chemistry. Those who submit accepted abstracts will be invited to present at the meeting on their chapters’ activities.


Need more support in brainstorming cool chemistry activities that quality for the Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award? Check out the ACS GCI Student Chapter Guides and informative videos for more ideas.


Congratulations to the 53 chapters who won this year’s awards!


We look forward to seeing all the new green chemistry projects that student chapters put together next year.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

Contributed by Marta Gmurczyk, Manager, ACS Safety Programs


In 2009, just a year after I had been appointed to serve as the ACS staff liaison for the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety (CCS), the entire safety community was devastated to learn about a tragic accident where a young researcher at the UCLA died from burn injuries she suffered while working with a pyrophoric solution of tert-Butyllithium. More accidents in educational settings followed, and calls for changes in the safety education processes and safety culture were becoming increasingly vocal, both within and outside the American Chemical Society.


The ACS Committee on Chemical Safety recognized this need and formed the Safety Culture Task Force, inviting partners from a number of ACS committees and divisions to join an effort to identify the elements and best practices of a good safety culture; offer specific recommendations that could be used by universities and colleges to strengthen their safety cultures; and identify tools and resources that would be beneficial to advancing these efforts. The final report, “Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions,” was published in 2012 and identified the following elements of a strong safety culture:


  • Leadership and Management of Safety
  • Teaching Basic Laboratory and Chemical Safety through Continuous and Integrated Safety Education
  • Safety Attitudes, Safety Awareness and Safety Ethics
  • Learning from Incidents
  • Collaborative Interactions that Help Build Strong Safety Cultures
  • Promoting and Communicating Safety


The report also made 17 specific recommendations to create vibrant, effective safety cultures in academic institutions. One of the recommendations called for ensuring that graduating chemistry students have strong skills in laboratory safety and strong safety ethics by integrating safety education into each laboratory session, as well as evaluating these skills throughout the educational process. The report also recommended implementing hazard analysis procedures in all lab work, especially laboratory research.


These recommendations resonated with the academic community as indicated by the overwhelming interest in the report — over 4,000 copies were distributed — but also uncovered needs for additional guidance and resources. One faculty member summed it up well after a conversation about safety education, saying, “If I knew what to teach, I would.” Educators have made significant efforts to reduce risks in teaching laboratories by using less hazardous chemicals and more controlled procedures to make environments much safer for students, but will such education prepare graduates for less controlled, riskier laboratory work in their professions? The consequences of not integrating safety training into chemical education might not be felt directly by the academic community, but its impacts are significant on graduates and the institutions that employ them.


Many companies have accepted the fact that they need to invest time and energy into developing safety training courses for their new bachelor's degree employees. Likewise, middle and high school chemistry/science teachers are responsible and accountable for the safe conduct of their students – yet safety education is not integrated in their pedagogical preparation. Multiple incidents involving demonstrations with methanol that have seriously burned numerous students and teachers; these are accidents that could have been prevented if teachers had a foundation on the technical aspects of chemical safety.


To assist teachers and faculty members with integrating safety education into their students’ chemistry curriculum, the committee published “Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Secondary Schools” and “Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Academic Institutions.”


The well-established ACS publication “Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories” has also been revised to provide students with an overview of the key issues related to the safe use of chemicals during the first two years of undergraduate chemistry education. The publication shifts one’s focus from safety based on rules to safety taught through the four RAMP principles: 1) recognize the hazards, 2) assess the risks of the hazards, 3) minimize the risks of the hazards, and 4) prepare for emergencies. Such a safety education emphasizes understanding hazards in terms of scientific principles, including reactions, thermodynamics, structure-activity relationships, assessment of risk of hazards, practices to minimize risks of hazards, and preparations for emergencies. This approach develops students’ ability to understand the principles and applications of safety and teaches them to think critically about safety to make decisions that will keep themselves and those around them safe.


ACS also responded to requests made by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) after its investigation of a serious accident at Texas Tech University in 2010 where a chemistry graduate student was seriously injured. The Board noted in the report that “current standards on hazard evaluations, risk assessment and hazard mitigation are geared toward industrial settings and are not transferrable to the academic research laboratory environment” and asked ACS to help. ACS accepted the CSB recommendations and developed the guide and tools to assess and control hazards in a research laboratory. We have come a long way in the past 10 years. ACS’s engagement with safety education contributed to a desired shift from a culture of compliance to a culture of safety where safety concepts and practices are more integrated in education and research.


Recently, ACS has elevated safety as a core value of the Society, and ACS Publications initiated a new safety reporting requirement that states that journal authors must “emphasize any unexpected, new, and/or significant hazards or risks associated with the reported work.”


I am the first full-time staff member to manage ACS safety programs. The position is housed in the newly-created Scientific Advancement Division, which also houses the Green Chemistry Institute (GCI). The proximity of these two programs naturally creates a connection between them, which I am committed to exploring.


In the emerging culture of safety, both chemistry education and research practices incorporate the explicit analysis of hazards and risks related to any laboratory activity. Both the culture of safety and the culture of green chemistry also call for this mindset, where critical assessment and preparation is built into planning with a purpose to minimize unexpected or potentially hazardous outcomes. Reflecting a growing awareness of green chemistry thinking, the culture is also shifting from regulating and banning, to one where products are designed to be synthesized in a way that reduces or eliminates the use of hazardous substances in the first place.


With the renewed ACS emphasis on safety come new opportunities to connect green chemistry to safety culture efforts. In the end, both efforts strive to lower risks to human health in the laboratory and make chemistry more sustainable for the planet.


If you wish to find out more about the ACS safety resources or share your thoughts on connections between green chemistry and the culture of safety, please contact me at



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

This year marks the 30th year of National Chemistry Week (NCW), which will be celebrated October 22-28. NCW is a wonderful opportunity for chemists to share their passion for chemistry with the general public, and working with your ACS local section or student chapter makes it easy to communicate the benefits of chemistry to your family, friends, and neighbors. The ACS Green Chemistry Institute® has partnered with ACS Program-in-a-Box to offer “Chemistry Rocks!  Exploring the Chemistry of Rocks and Minerals” on Tuesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. EDT. Information on joining this interactive broadcast is available at ocks.html.


I had the pleasure of joining the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable meeting in Ingelheim, Germany on October 3-5. The hospitality offered by our hosts at Boehringer Ingelheim was exceptional! The Pharmaceutical Roundtable continues to be extremely active and productive by awarding research grants; developing tools, such as the process mass intensity calculation tool; creating and disseminating guides, including solvent and reagent guides; and publishing key research articles. These activities support the Roundtable’s strategic priorities of informing and influencing the research agenda, providing tools to accelerate innovation, educating leaders, and fostering global collaboration. Please contact Isamir Martinez at if you would like to know more about the work of the Pharmaceutical Roundtable or ACS GCI’s other industry Roundtables focused on Chemical Manufacturing, Formulations, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Biochemical Technology.


We are deep into planning the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, which will be held in Portland, Oregon, from June 18-20, 2018. The organizing committee is currently reviewing symposia proposals, and abstract submission will open on January 4, 2018.  We are thrilled to welcome Joe DeSimone, the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina and CEO of Carbon, Inc., as a keynote speaker!


The 2018 Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy will return to the Colorado School of Mines on July 10-17, 2018. The program is open to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. We will begin accepting Summer School applications in mid-November, so please check back next month at for additional information.





“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

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