Chasing Molecules
288 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Sep 2011
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Chasing Molecules

Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry

Island Press

Each day, headlines warn that baby bottles are leaching dangerouschemicals, nonstick pans are causing infertility, and plasticcontainers are making us fat. What if green chemistry could change allthat? What if rather than toxics, our economy ran on harmless,environmentally-friendly materials?

Elizabeth Grossman, an acclaimed journalist who brought nationalattention to the contaminants hidden in computers and other high techelectronics, now tackles the hazards of ordinary consumer products. Sheshows that for the sake of convenience, efficiency, and short-termsafety, we have created synthetic chemicals that fundamentally change,at a molecular level, the way our bodies work. The consequences rangefrom diabetes to cancer, reproductive and neurological disorders.

Yet it’s hard to imagine life without the creature comfortscurrent materials provide—and Grossman argues we do not have to.A scientific revolution is introducing products that are “benignby design,” developing manufacturing processes that considerhealth impacts at every stage, and is creating new compounds that mimicrather than disrupt natural systems. Through interviews with leadingresearchers, Grossman gives us a first look at this radicaltransformation.

Green chemistry is just getting underway, but it offers hope that wecan indeed create products that benefit health, the environment, andindustry.

Elizabeth Grossman is the author of High TechTrash, Watershed, and Adventuring Along the Lewis andClark Trail. Her writing has appeared in Mother Jones, TheNation, Salon, The Washington Post, and other publications. Shelives in Portland, Oregon.


Chapter 1: There’s Something in the Air

Chapter 2: Swimmers, Hoppers, and Fliers

Chapter 3: Laboratory Curiosities and Chemical Unknowns

Chapter 4: The Polycarbonate Problem

Chapter 5: Plasticizers: Health Risks or Fifty Years of Denial ofData?

Chapter 6: The Persistent and Pernicious

Chapter 7: Out of the Frying Pan

Chapter 8: Nanotechnology: Perils and Promise of  theInfinitesimal

Chapter 9: Material Consequences: Toward a Greening of Chemistry

Epilogue: Redesigning the Future


Appendix: The Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry and FurtherInformation


Select Bibliography


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