Volume 1

Featured Video: Soybean seats in your Ford?

Ford Motor Company is making car seats from soybean oil, and has a plan to make rubber from dandelions.  Don’t miss this fascinating presentation by Debbie Mielewski on the automakers efforts to make cars from plants like Henry Ford did.

Is that Plastic Bottle Really Safer?

How do we evaluate and compare the safety profiles of chemicals and materials? One of the most important tools to do that, called the Green Screen, is now being used in industry and government to answer that question. You can be trained to use the tool at this in-person, day-long training in Ann Arbor, May 9-11, 2012.

The GreenScreenTM for Safer Chemicals is a comparative chemical screening method developed by Clean Production Action. It is used by organizations and government entities like Hewlett Packard, and the State of Washington, to evaluate the hazards associated with specific chemicals and identify safer alternatives. This day‐long training will be of particular interest to business experts in supply chain management, materials selection, procurement, product and process design, environmental health and safety, sustainability, and regulatory affairs that need to select safer chemicals for their products and advocates interested in these issues. This GreenScreen Training is being held in conjunction with the 7th Annual Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) Innovators Roundtable May 9‐11, 2012 at the headquarters of NSF in Ann Arbor.

For more information please contact Clean Production Action at:

Email: greenscreen@cleanproduction.org
Website: http://www.cleanproduction.org/Greenscreen.php

GC3logoNational Green Chemistry Leaders Coming to Michigan

This May, the premier national business-to-business Green Chemistry organization is coming to Michigan! The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) – with members from some of the largest companies in the country – will meet for their annual conference to talk about green innovation.

This is an important meeting for business-to-business networking, cross‐sectoral collaboration, and sharing of information and experiences about the challenges to and opportunities for safer chemicals and products. The program will offer opportunities to learn to support the implementation of green chemistry and safer chemicals and products throughout supply chains; foster dialog across sectors to overcome barriers to green chemistry adoption; and promote information sharing about the practical application of green chemistry and design for the environment within your institution. This conference is specifically targeting businesses, although NGO members are invited to attend. Please spread the word to progressive businesses in your network! The 7th Annual Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) Innovators Roundtable is from May 9‐11, 2012 at the headquarters of NSF in Ann Arbor. For more information please contact Sarah Shields at sarah_shields@uml.edu and Visit:


hslogoHealthyStuff.Org Releases report on Cars

In February, the Ecology Center released its fourth consumer guide to toxic chemicals in cars at HealthyStuff.org, finding the Honda Civic at the top of this year’s list, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport at the bottom. Over 200 of the most popular 2011- and 2012-model vehicles were tested for chemicals that off-gas from parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats. These chemicals contribute to “new car smell” and a variety of acute and long-term health concerns. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in a car every day, toxic chemical exposure inside vehicles can be a major source of indoor air pollution.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center. “Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

Chemicals of primary concern include: bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; and heavy metals. Such chemicals have been linked to a wide range of health problems such as allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer. Automobiles are particularly harsh environments for plastics, as extreme air temperatures of 192 F and dash temperatures up to 248 F can increase the concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and break other chemicals down into more toxic substances.

“Automobiles function as chemical reactors, creating one of the most hazardous environments we spend time in,” added Gearhart. The good news is overall vehicle ratings are improving. The best vehicles today have eliminated hazardous flame retardants and PVC. Today, 17% of new vehicles have PVC-free interiors and 60% are produced without BFRs.

Read more at : http://www.healthystuff.org/press.releases.php

Green Chemistry Science Shorts: Better cleaner greener paints

Sherwin Williams won a 2011 Green Chemistry Award last year for an innovative process to use soybean oil and old plastic pop bottles to make paint. Oil-based “alkyd” paints have high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that become air pollutants as the paint dries. Previous acrylic paints contained lower VOCs, but could not match the performance of alkyds. Sherwin-Williams developed water-based acrylic alkyd paints with low VOCs that can be made from recycled soda bottle plastic (PET), acrylics, and soybean oil. These paints combine the performance benefits of alkyds and low VOC content of acrylics. In 2010, Sherwin-Williams manufactured enough of these new paints to eliminate over 800,000 pounds of VOCs.

CATALYST is a quarterly newsletter compiled by the Ecology Center for the public audience of the Michigan Green Chemistry Clearinghouse.

            Ecology Center Logo


CATALYST Back Issues

CATALYST is a periodic newsletter highlighting advances in developing products and chemicals that are safer for people and the environment. CATALYST was compiled by the Ecology Center for the general public on behalf of the Michigan Green Chemistry Clearinghouse.

Click below to view CATALYST Newsletters: