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4 Conclusions and Key Opportunities The Challenges for the Chemical Sciences in the 21st Century Workshop on the Environment brought together chemical scientists and engineers from academia, government, national laboratories, and industrial laboratories, who pro- vided a broad range of experience and perspective. Their discussions and presen- tations identified a wide variety of opportunities and challenges in chemistry and chemical engineering. These are documented throughout this report (see Appen- dix D and Appendix G for specific examples) and led the committee to its overarching conclusions: Conclusion: Chemistry and chemical engineering have made major con- tributions to solving environmental problems. Specific areas of accomplishment include major increases in analytical capabilities detection, monitoring, and measurement; meets); increased understanding of biogeochemical processes and cycles; advances in industrial ecology new attitudes about pollution prevention; development of environmentally benign materials (e.g., CFC replace- new methods for waste treatment and pollution prevention; green chemistry and new chemical processes; discovery of environmental problems and identification of their underly- ing causes and mechanisms; and development of improved modeling and simulation techniques. 50

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CONCLUSIONS AND KEY OPPORTUNITIES 51 Conclusion: Collaboration of chemists and chemical engineers with sci- entists and engineers in other disciplines has led to important discover- ies. These contributions have enhanced both basic understanding and the solu- tion of environmental problems through work at the interfaces of the chemical sciences with biology, physics, engineering, materials science, mathematics, com- puter science, atmospheric science, meteorology, and geology. Conclusion: Manifold challenges and opportunities in chemistry and chemical engineering exist at the interface with the environmental sci- ences. By responding to these opportunities and challenges, the chemical sciences community will be able to make substantial contributions to fundamental understanding of the environment, remediation of environmental problems that currently exist, prevention of environmental problems in the future, and protection of the environment. The stakes for responding to these challenges are high because regulatory decisions might cost or preserve billions of dollars, impact millions of human lives, or even determine the fate of entire species. Much of the discussion at the workshop emphasized the interrelated nature of the many parts of the environment. Typically, it is not possible to take action in one area without creating at least the possibility of impacting other areas as well. In order to avoid such undesired consequences, a systems approach will be needed for the discovery and management of problems of the atmosphere, water, and soil. This will be necessary not only for understanding the complexity of each medium but for avoiding regulatory-driven tendencies to simply shift impacts from one medium to another. A life-cycle systems approach, similar to what has been developed to evalu- ate energy impacts, will facilitate sound management of environmental impacts. This will provide a clear understanding of both where and when environmental impacts occur in the life of a product, process, or service. It also will make it possible to appreciate all impacts, and to see how interactions and alternatives at each point in a life cycle can influence other parts of the life cycle. For chemical processing and manufacturing, significant impact can occur at various stages, including extraction and preparation of raw materials, conversion of raw materi- als into products, separation and purification of materials, product distribution, end use of products, and final disposition after the useful life of products.

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52 THE ENVIRONMENT Conclusion: A systems approach is essential for solution of environmen- tal problems. The systems approach will be needed in several areas, including . actions that affect any of the three principal environmental sinks (air, wa- ter, and soil) and the biological systems with which they interact, where attempts to manage each of them separately will surely transfer impacts from one medium to another; spatial management of environmental impact sources where the impacts are generated in a processing and manufacturing sequence; and temporal management of environmental impact sources when the im- pacts are generated in a processing and manufacturing sequence. The use of systems approaches will necessitate simulation and modeling of enormously large and complex systems. This will require significant computa- tional resources, intensive efforts in complex optimization, and formulation of mathematical models. Input and expertise from a broad array of scientific, engi- neering, and social disciplines will be an essential part of developing the neces- sary tools. Conclusion: Solving environmental problems will require intensive mathematical modeling, complex optimization, and computational re- sources. Systems approaches will necessitate extensive collaborations among a wide range of scientific, engineering, and social disciplines. Workshop participants identified a broad array of research challenges, both in areas of fundamental understanding and for specific environmental problems. Conclusion: Important opportunities exist for chemists and chemical en- gineers to contribute to a better understanding of the environment. Many of these research opportunities will involve work at the interfaces with other disciplines or interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists and engineers from those disciplines. Just as these collaborations have led to significant progress in the past, they should be expected to play an important role in future efforts to fully understand and solve environmental problems. Examples include the need to understand (or better understand) structure-toxicity relations; chemical processes at the molecular level;

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CONCLUSIONS AND KEY OPPORTUNITIES 53 biological and physicochemical interactions in response to environmental stresses; fate and transport of anthropogenic chemicals; biogeochemical cycles; gas-to-particle conversion in the atmosphere; functional genomics and the chemical processes that govern organism- environment relationships; and chemical-gene interactions in the real environment. As we continue to better understand the underlying science of the environ- ment, further advances will require new tools and instruments. Conclusion: Chemists and chemical engineers will need to develop new analytical instruments and tools. These tools and instruments will have to function effectively in an increas- ingly complex research arena that involves measurements of vanishingly small quantities of substances in the presence of contamination from other chemicals, under circumstances that make sample acquisition difficult. They will have to address three principal areas of measurement: 1. laboratory analyses 2. field measurements 3. theoretical tools for modeling and comparison with experiment Conclusion: Improved methods for sampling and monitoring must be developed. Chemists and chemical engineers will have to address the challenges of sam- pling and monitoring air, water, and soil more extensively and more fre- quently than can be done now. This will require improvements in instrumenta- tion, in sampling methodology, and in techniques for remote measurements. Conclusion: The new approaches of green chemistry and sustainable chemistry offer the potential for developing chemical and manufactur- ing processes that are environmentally beneficial. We are still in the early stages, but successful examples already have been reported. If the necessary investment is made in these new directions, chemists and chemical engineers will be able to make major strides in improving environ- mental quality.

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54 THE ENVIRONMENT Conclusion: Strong and continued support of the chemical sciences will be an essential part of the federal research investment for understand- ing, improving, and protecting the environment. Chemists and chemical engineers will be able to respond effectively to the challenges described here only if they have the resources needed to carry out the necessary research. This impact of support will be enhanced if it facilitates inter- disciplinary research and encourages industrial partnerships. The scientific progress resulting from such support will inform and enable the policy-making and decision process that is essential to future environmental improvement.