Better Living Through Gentler Chemistry

| 11/7/2007 2:17:15 PM

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I got excited when I read the headline “Drugs That Are Easier on the Environment” on the homepage of MIT’s Technology Review. I assumed it was going to be about less effluent drugs, possibly ones that wouldn’t pollute the nation’s water. Trace amounts of drugs like Prozac, Viagra, and Birth Control pills are often found in US waterways, Seed Magazine" href="" target="_blank">according to a 2006 article from Seed Magazine. I would love to hear about innovative ways that researchers are responding to the problems.

The November/December issue of Utne Reader also has an article addressing the growing issue of drug-resistant diseases. More antibiotics means a greater resistance to drugs, so the article proposes that we protect antibiotic effectiveness as we would any natural resource. It would be fascinating to hear about ways researchers are developing more effective drugs, without creating more drug-resistant diseases.

Unfortunately, the Technology Review article wasn’t about either one of those issues. Instead, it focused on a new catalyst that uses iron, instead of chlorine or other toxic chemicals. That may be more eco-friendly, but it didn’t seem all that revolutionary. So I thought I'd take this opporunity to write about those issues anyway.

Bennett Gordon

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