Green Chemistry: Making Paint More Safe

by | Dec 17, 2013

jones, jim, epaOne of the most exciting parts of my job is learning about technologies by American innovators and researchers that are solving some of our most pressing environmental problems.   These discoveries are bringing us safer chemicals, reducing hazardous waste, energy and water, and improving the bottom line for America’s manufacturing sector.

Did you know that one of the ways we traditionally make paint can use up tremendous amounts of energy, water, and chemicals in the manufacturing process, as well as being costly? Scientists have recently found a technology that can help solve this problem – and I recently visited the facility where it’s happening.

Two weeks ago, I took a side trip while at the 2013 U.S. Green Build Expo and Green Chemistry Networking  in Philadelphia to learn about this new technology at Dow’s Chemical facility in Collegeville, PA. When I travel for EPA, I try to visit facilities where Green Chemistry technologies are being developed and used. Dow’s  technology greatly reduces the amount of a chemical needed in the paint, significantly reducing manufacturing costs and pollution in the environment.

Dow’s life cycle analysis indicates that the new technology used to make exterior house paint reduces the paint’s carbon footprint by over 22%, water consumption by 30%, harmful emissions by 24%, and water impacts like algae bloom by 27% — while providing other benefits for water and air quality. While this is good news for the environment, it’s also great news for the consumer. This new technology will make the paint more effective at reducing the bleed through of old paint colors or rust. A clear win-win technology and product.

Dow’s technology is just one of many examples of Green Chemistry in action – helping solve environmental problems while saving money, and reducing waste and resource use. When technologies like this make their way to market, the human and environmental impacts, as well as economic impacts, are real and long lasting.

Jim Jones is the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. He is responsible for managing the office which implements the nation’s pesticide, toxic chemical, and pollution prevention laws. Jim’s career with EPA spans more than 26 years. He has an M.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a B.A. from the University of Maryland, both in Economics.

This article was republished with permission from the EPA.

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