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Environ Health. 2013 Apr 15;12:31. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-12-31.

Occupational safety and health, green chemistry, and sustainability: a review of areas of convergence.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati, OH, USA.


With increasing numbers and quantities of chemicals in commerce and use, scientific attention continues to focus on the environmental and public health consequences of chemical production processes and exposures. Concerns about environmental stewardship have been gaining broader traction through emphases on sustainability and "green chemistry" principles. Occupational safety and health has not been fully promoted as a component of environmental sustainability. However, there is a natural convergence of green chemistry/sustainability and occupational safety and health efforts. Addressing both together can have a synergistic effect. Failure to promote this convergence could lead to increasing worker hazards and lack of support for sustainability efforts. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has made a concerted effort involving multiple stakeholders to anticipate and identify potential hazards associated with sustainable practices and green jobs for workers. Examples of potential hazards are presented in case studies with suggested solutions such as implementing the hierarchy of controls and prevention through design principles in green chemistry and green building practices. Practical considerations and strategies for green chemistry, and environmental stewardship could benefit from the incorporation of occupational safety and health concepts which in turn protect affected workers.

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