The Rational Design of Safer Chemicals

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How does one design a benign chemical? What makes a chemical toxic? Can toxicity be predicted at the design stage? These are some of the questions that Dr. Julie Zimmerman, Associate Professor of Green Engineering at Yale University, seeks to answer. Last month, Dr. Zimmerman presented her ongoing research into these issues during a well-attended webcast sponsored by ACS GCI and moderated by Dr. Joseph Fortunak. As Professor Zimmerman noted, we need to change the way we think about chemistry, “Hazard must be recognized as a design flaw.”

Existing strategies to reduce toxicity however focus on doing animal testing at the pilot stage after new chemical has already been developed, but before it goes to market—which is an expensive process prohibitive to smaller companies, and also raises animal testing concerns. In any case, testing after design would be impractical given that there are approximately 90,000 chemicals in the market today. What Zimmerman goes onto explain in her presentation, is an alternative approach that looks at creating a set of rules that can guide chemists toward non-bioactive, non-hazardous structures by looking at the physical chemical properties and relating them to various types of toxicity.

Watch the presentation below to find out more about this fascinating research. If you are having trouble viewing the video below, click here.

This presentation was produced by ACS Webinars. The recording and PDF download of the slides are available on ACS Webinars site.

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