government research and development funding efforts can help address larger sustainability goals.

In the context of this report, “sustainability” is a path forward that allows humanity to meet current environmental and human health, economic, and societal needs without compromising the progress and success of future generations.2,3 Sustainable practices refer to products, processes, and systems that support this path. For example, such processes might involve developing new energy resources to meet societal needs; but to be sustainable they must also be economically competitive and not cause harm to the environment or human health. The Grand Challenges and research needs identified in this report warrant further attention (largely through research investment) because one or more of the three criteria of sustainability is lacking. Working toward such sustainability goals is thus both wide in scope and deep in complexity. Addressing sustainability necessarily cuts across all disciplinary boundaries and requires a broad system view to integrate the different and competing factors involved. This includes “strategic connections between scientific research, technological development, and societies’ efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable improvements in human well-being,”4 and involves the creative “design of products, processes, systems, and organizations, and the implementation of smart management strategies that effectively harness technology and ideas to avoid environmental problems before they arise.”5 In this report, progress in the chemical industry is considered within these broader efforts to address sustainability.

There are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States, and an estimated 2,000 new ones introduced each year.6 Modern society depends on, and greatly benefits from having most of these chemicals in the market place. According to the American Chemistry Council,7 “the business of chemistry [in the United States] is a $460 billion enterprise8 and is a key element of the nation’s economy … Chemistry compa-


World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our Common Future (The “Brundtland” Report). Oxford: Oxford University Press. National Research Council. 1999. Our Common Journey: A Transition Toward Sustainability. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.


Graedel, T. E., and B. R. Allenby. 1995. Industrial Ecology. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.


National Research Council. 1999. Our Common Journey: A Transition Toward Sustainability. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.


National Academy of Engineering. 1997. The Industrial Green Game: Implications for Environmental Design and Management. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.


National Toxicology Program:



This is about 26 percent of the global chemical production.

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