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Green Practices Committee: Chemical Awareness and Sustainability: Home

Purpose of this Guide

This site provides ideas, resources and recommendations for achieving greener chemical use on campus. Let us keep in mind that even if the practice is "green" it will have an environmental impact.

Carnegie Mellon Community Earth Week  April 19-25
Environment at CMU
CMU Sustainability Initiative
CMU Sustainability Advisory Council


Chemicals of Concern in the Environment

Chemicals of Concern in the Environment, 2018
The 2nd Phipps  One Health One Planet Symposium. Transcripts, audio and video
Major Points:

  • One Health idea: human, animal and environmental health are all connected.
  • mothers have to be chemical engineers to buy food for their kids
  • "problems of sustainable chemistry today are not primarily technical but almost overwhelmingly cultural" Terry Collins
  • chemicals do not have to be proven safe to be put on the market
  • chemicals  can be passed on from grandparents to grandchildren (epigenetic: non-genetic influence on gene expression)
  • chemicals building up in animals and the environment are building up in us too.
  • legal doesn't mean it's safe
  • if we know/suspect something is bad we need to curtail it
  • persistent organic pollutants
  • endocrine disruptors pthalates, plastics
  • rain on landfills = toxic leachate
  • "this problem is as big and maybe even more fast acting than the climate problem" Terry Collins



Find chemical hazard and toxicology content in this free resource integrating ten of the most commonly used databases from TOXNET.  Note that the NLM (National Library of Medicine) discontinued their TOXNET website, retired some content and moved other content to other NIH (National Institutes of Health) websites. You can find those separate links here. 

Green Chemistry

Terry Collins, Theresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemisty

Saving the World’s Water from Our Own Destruction
January 04, 2019.. Terry Collins and Ryan Sullivan speak with Alan Russel about water pollution on his podcast

Basics of Green Chemistry
The design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances.



2.1 Credit Checklist
Credits, points and minimal requirements

STARS criteria for landscape:
Area managed in accordance with an organic land care standard or sustainable landscape management program that has eliminated the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in favor of ecologically preferable materials.

Princeton Guide to Green Colleges




SITES Rating System and Scorecard
(Measures rather than standards)

Organic Materials Review Institute

Other Resources

Library Resources for Chemical Safety ~ Neelam Bharti (CMU Chemistry Librarian)

Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics 2017: Chemicals (

Tools and resources including a resource guide for every state. Here's the page for Pennsylvania.


ECHA: Chemicals In Our Life
European Chemicals Agency
Purpose is to raise public awareness of the benefits and risks of chemicals in our everyday lives

Pathways of Pesticide Spread in the Environment



Climate Change
Accumulation of chemical pollutants are exacerbated with climate change including migration and absorption in air, soil and water and ultimately our bodies.

Climate Change and Chemical Safety (World Health Organization)

The Fate of Chemical Pollutants with Soil Properties and Processes in the Climate Change Paradigm: A Review.
Bhabananda Biswas 1,2, Fangjie Qi 2,3, Jayanta Kumar Biswas 4, Ayanka Wijayawardena 2,3 ID , Muhammad Atikul Islam Khan 1 and Ravi Naid  Sept 2018.

Movement of Pesticides in the Environment (1993)
The release of pesticides into the environment may be followed by a very complex series of events which can transport the pesticide through the air or water, into the ground or even into living organisms. The most important route of distribution and the extent of distribution will be different for each pesticide. It will depend on the formulation of the pesticide (what it is combined with) and how and when it is released. Despite this complexity, it is possible to identify situations that can pose concern and to try to minimize them. However, there are significant gaps in the knowledge of pesticide movement and fate in the environment and so it is best to minimize unnecessary release of pesticides into the environment. The fewer pesticides that are unnecessarily released, the safer our environment will be.




Worldwatch Institute

"Through research and outreach that inspire action, the Worldwatch Institute works to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world that meets human needs. The Institute’s top mission objectives are universal access to renewable energy and nutritious food, expansion of environmentally sound jobs and development, transformation of cultures from consumerism to sustainability, and an early end to population growth through healthy and intentional childbearing."

United Nations Sustainable Development

CMU's AASHE STARS assessment (reaching Gold in 2019) measures practices in relation to the: United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform for 2030

United Nations 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development

UN Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future (aka the Brundtland Commission Report). One of the realized goals of the commission was to establish the Earth Charter, a global consensus statement on ethics and values for a sustainable future.


By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination


By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development

End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. (The way we treat women in a benchmark and directly correlated to how we relate to our planet and it's biodiversity)

By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes









Sustainability Institution of 2019

Spring 2012

Current McGill Sustainability Funds Project (SFP)
Students are paying $0.55 per credit, with the University matching the contributions, to create a Sustainability Projects Fund; over 200 projects funded to date spanning a wide range of types and funding levels including a hiking trail a Green Labs Initiative and McGill Feeding McGill.

McGill was named Sustainability Institution of the Year at the 2019 International Green Gown Awards (the winners were named in New York in July as part of the United Nations High Level Political Forum).

Princeton Review


Princeton Review Top 50 Green Colleges 2019



Princeton Review: Green Rating Method


  • student quality of life
  • preparing student for green economy
  • school policies: how environmentally responsible are they?
  • student opinion