207555 Intersecting energy policy, green chemistry, and occupational health

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:30 AM

James Frederick, MS , Health, Safety and Environment Department, USW, Pittsburgh, PA
Michael P. Wilson, PhD, MPH , Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Julie Beth Zimmerman, PhD, MS , Zimmerman Lab, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Joseph Hughes , Director, Worker Education and Training Branch, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC
The potential for employment and industrial innovation in the clean energy sector continues to gather momentum, following the lead of several states, including California. The clean energy sector has focused on the important benefits it will provide in addressing climate change.

There is growing concern, however, over the implications for worker and environmental health in this sector, including in the construction of photovoltaic (PV) systems, wind generated systems, and green building materials. PV systems in particular rely on an array of existing solvents, metals and materials, many of which are bioaccumulative, toxic, and/or environmentally persistent. As currently conceived, the clean energy sector, while advancing necessary industrial changes, could introduce a new wave of occupational disease and hazardous electronic waste. This waste may migrate to Asia and Africa, where it will add to enormous environmental health threats posed by e-waste recycling, recovery and disposal operations.

As the clean energy sector prepares for rapid growth, a window of opportunity has opened for the U.S. to link chemicals policy and energy policy. The performance of chemicals in our society must evolve from a focus on chemical function, cost, quality and safety to include environment, human health, and social wellbeing. Green chemistry and green engineering focus on reducing risk by reducing hazards.

Informed workers must be included in this discussion. This panel will present views from experts in labor, occupational health, worker education and chemicals policy. The panel will include Michael Wilson, Julie Zimmerman, Chip Hughes, and Jim Frederick.

Learning Objectives:
Assess the risks to worker and environmental health of the emerging clean technology sector and the potential for green chemistry and chemicals policy to address these risks and open new opportunities for employment and investment in safer alternatives in this sector.

Keywords: Occupational Health, New Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered