Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2009 14:22:26 -0400
Reply-To: "Harry J. Elston" <helston**At_Symbol_Here**FGI.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Harry J. Elston" <helston**At_Symbol_Here**FGI.NET>
Subject: Re: sustainability definition Redux

Henry points out (below) what many of us have come to conclude.  Ho wever, what happens when a person or a party or corporation decides what th ey are doing is "sustainable" and someone disagrees with them?


So we all have some sort of warm, fuzzy feeling on what sustainable mean s.  Let's get down to brass tacks here - the benchtop:


Case in point:


Freshman laboratory experiment performs a simple neutralization reaction - let's say sulfuric acid and sodium bicarbonate, to a pH of 8.0 (a p henolthalein endpoint) resulting in:


1.  Carbon dioxide being released.  (Carbon dioxide is a green house gas, right?)

2.  Sodium sulfate being produced.  The school decides to disp ose of this product through a TSDF even though it is both non-hazardous and non-regulated, because, after all, "chemistry lab waste is hazardous."  NB - the sodium sulfate may or may not be in solution - it really does n ot matter for this discussion.


For whatever reason, the instructor is unwilling to substitute any of th e reactants as they want to demonstrate salt formation of neutralization, c onservation of mass, stoichiometry, or any number of other things. 


I would argue that #1 above is no big deal, though - and rightfully so - some may say that the experiment contributes to a climate problem, be it r eal or imagined.  (The existance or non-esistance of global warming or its overall impact or non-impact is not germane to this discussion).  However, #2 is a real, economic problem - it creates a manifested haz ardous waste where none really existed and disposal costs are skyrocketing.

Is this a "sustainable" reaction?  Why or why not?



-----Original Message-----
From: List Moderator
Sent: Sep 10, 2009 1:40 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
S ubject: Re: [DCHAS-L] sustainability definition

The real definition:

Sustainability is a relatio nship, or balancing act, 
between factors which are constantly chan ging. 
Like "family values," everyone agrees that sustainability 
is a good thing, but no one agrees on what exactly it is, 
o r even more significantly, how to achieve it and how 
to know when we have achieved it.

Georgia Tech Research Institute

A practical meaning:

The concept of sustainability refers to our ability to operate 
ef ficiently and productively while minimizing our negative impact 
on the environment. Seeking the best balance between the demands 
of doing business and the need to protect the environment can be challenging.& nbsp;

Martin Madaus, PhD, Millipore's CEO

Harry J. Elston, Ph.D., CIH
Midwest Chemical Safety, LLC

Editor, Journal of Chemical Health & Safety

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong
 enough to take everything you have" - Thomas Jefferson

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