by David R. Shonnard
gained increasing prominence in the latter half of the 20th century.
Global population growth has lead to increasing pressure on worldwide
natural resources including air and water, arable land, and raw
materials, and modern societies have generated an increasing demand
for the use of industrial chemicals. The use of these chemicals
has resulted in great benefits in raising the standard of living,
prolonging human life and improving the environment. But as new
chemicals are introduced into the marketplace and existing chemicals
continue to be used, the environmental and human health impacts
of these chemicals have become a concern. Today, there is a much
better understanding of the mechanisms that determine how chemical
are transported and transformed in the environment and what their
environmental and human health impacts are, and it is now possible
to incorporate environmental objectives into the design of chemical
processes and products.
The challenge for
future generations of chemical engineers is to develop and master
the technical tools and approaches that will integrate environmental
objectives into design decisions. The purpose of Chapter 1 is to
present a brief introduction to the major environmental problems
that are caused by the production and use of chemicals in modern
industrial societies. With each environmental problem introduced,
the chemicals or classes of chemicals implicated in that problem
are identified. Whenever possible, the chemical reactions or other
mechanisms responsible for the chemical's impact are explained.
Trends in the production, use, or release of those chemicals are
shown. Finally, a brief summary of adverse health effects is presented.
This chapter's intent is to present the broad range of environmental
issues which may be encountered by chemical engineers. Chapter 3
contains a review of selected environmental regulations that may
affect chemical engineers. It is hoped that this information will
elevate the environmental awareness of chemical engineers and will
lead to more informed decisions regarding the design, production,
and use of chemicals.