The key difference between green chemistry and environmental chemistry is that the green chemistry is a chemical technique whereas the environmental chemistry is a discipline.
Green chemistry is waste management. But it includes the management of waste which is produced during a certain chemical process. In the above key difference, a discipline means “a branch of knowledge”. Therefore, environmental chemistry is a branch of knowledge in which we can study about chemical aspects of chemistry. This branch of chemistry includes analysis of contaminants in nature and analysis of soils, with many other fields.
What is Green Chemistry?
Green chemistry is a chemical technique in which we manage the waste produced from chemical processes. Therefore, it entirely includes cleaning up the environment via getting rid of chemical waste. We call it sustainable chemistry as well. What we mainly study in green chemistry is to use a minimum amount of chemicals during a chemical process and to minimize the generation of hazardous waste.
Therefore, this branch of chemistry focuses on the environmental impact of chemistry. There are a set of principles which we use in green chemistry. Paul Anastas and John C. Warner were the people who created these rules. There are 12 principles.
- Prevention (prevention of waste is better than managing waste)
- Atom economy (try to minimize the materials involves in the chemical synthesis process)
- Less hazardous chemical synthesis (the chemical process should use less toxic chemicals)
- Designing safer chemicals (the final product of the process should be non-toxic)
- Safer solvents and auxiliaries (we should avoid auxiliary chemicals wherever it is possible)
- Design for energy efficiency (us a minimum energy for the chemical process)
- Use of renewable feedstock (renewable feedstock allows it to form a less amount of waste)
- Reduce derivatives (minimize the production of unnecessary compounds)
- Catalysis (we can catalyze reactions to speed up the process)
- Design for degradation (we can design the byproducts of the process more degradable)
- Real-time analysis for pollution prevention (we should develop analytical methods to further pollution prevention)
- Inherently safer chemistry for accident prevention (choose the materials for the process which are non-explosive or non-flammable wherever it is possible)
What is Environmental Chemistry?
Environmental chemistry is a branch of chemistry in which we study and analyze the chemical processes that take place in nature. We call it a discipline of the main branch of knowledge which is important in determining the degree of chemical pollution. This field mainly focuses on the effects of the chemicals on environmental pollution and the reduction of it by using non-renewable feedstock for chemical synthesis processes.
In this area of chemistry, we study the fate of a chemical species in nature; air, water and soil. It also determines the effects of human activities and biological activities on these chemicals. This field includes several sub-categories such as aquatic chemistry (deals about water), soil chemistry and atmospheric chemistry. We also study about contaminations. A contaminant is a chemical substance that we can find at a higher level than required (or we normally observe). Contaminants may generate due to either human activities or biological activities. Most of the times contaminants are pollutants.
Apart from that, there are indicators we use in determining the quality of soil, water and air. For example, we use parameters such as dissolved oxygen (DO level), BOD level, COD level, pH, etc. in determining the water quality. Moreover, the analytical techniques in environmental chemistry can be either qualitative or quantitative.
What is the Difference Between Green Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry?
Green chemistry is a chemical technique in which we manage the waste produced from chemical processes. This branch of chemistry has 12 important principles that we should follow during a chemical synthesis process. Moreover, it involves reducing the pollution at its source. Environmental chemistry is a branch of chemistry in which we study and analyse the chemical processes that take place in nature. However, it has no rules or principles, but it has parameters to measure the quality of water, air and soil. In addition Environmental chemistry focuses on the effects of chemistry on environmental pollution. This is the main difference between green chemistry and environmental chemistry.
Summary – Green Chemistry vs Environmental Chemistry
Green chemistry and environmental chemistry are two main branches of chemistry that deal with nature. The difference between green chemistry and environmental chemistry is that green chemistry is a chemical technique whereas environmental chemistry is a discipline.
1. “Green Chemistry.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 June 2018. Available here