A failure to teach ‘green’ chemistry in universities is leading to increased hazardous area risks that must be tackled with specialist equipment, rather than being designed out of processes in the first place, according to an RSC article.

The Royal Society of Chemistry reported in its Chemistry World publication that curriculums are failing to prioritise toxicity as a major concern during research.

As a consequence, companies face the dilemma of chemists developing new processes and techniques that rely on highly toxic ingredients, which must then either be managed or prevent the process from being scaled up to mass market.

“Many of the reasons we often cannot scale up laboratory chemistry relate to issues around human health and the environment,” the article asserts.

“Chemistry has evolved around the assumption that there must be elements of toxicity and hazards associated with any process – that these concerns are just part of being a chemist.”

For companies, hazardous area equipment offers one route to market for processes with inherent risks, by overcoming some of the threats posed by inflammable and toxic vapours – and until chemists begin to design out such risks and find ‘green’ alternatives, such equipment will continue to play a crucial role.