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Ken Geiser

Ken Geiser is Professor Emeritus of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Founder and past Codirector of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, and the author of Materials Matter: Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy. One of the authors of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act, he was Director of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute for thirteen years.

Titles by This Author

Policies for a Sustainable World

Today, there are thousands of synthetic chemicals used to make our clothing, cosmetics, household products, electronic devices, even our children’s toys. Many of these chemicals help us live longer and more comfortable lives, but some of these highly useful chemicals are also persistent, toxic, and dangerous to our health and the environment. For fifty years, the conventional approach to hazardous chemicals has focused on regulation, barriers, and protection. In Chemicals without Harm, Ken Geiser proposes a different strategy, based on developing and adopting safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals rather than focusing exclusively on controlling them.

Geiser reviews past government policies focused on controlling chemicals, describes government initiatives outside the United States that have begun to implement a more sustainable chemical policy, and offers an overview of the chemicals industry and market. He develops a safer chemicals policy framework that includes processes for characterizing, classifying, and prioritizing chemicals; generating and using new chemical information; and promoting transitions to safer chemicals.

The shift in strategy described by Geiser will require broad changes in science, the chemicals economy, and government policy. Geiser shows that it is already beginning, identifying an emerging movement of scientists, corporate managers, environmental activists, and government leaders who are fashioning a new, twenty-first-century approach to chemicals.

Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy

The products we purchase and use are assembled from a wide range of naturally occurring and manufactured materials. But too often we create hazards for the ecosystem and human health as we mine, process, distribute, use, and dispose of these materials. Until recently, most research has focused on the waste end of material cycles. This book argues that the safest and least costly point at which to avoid environmental damage is when materials are first designed and selected for use in industrial production.

Materials Matter presents convincing evidence that we can use fewer materials and eliminate the use of many toxic chemicals by focusing directly on material (chemical) use when products are designed. It also shows how manufacturers can save money by increasing the effectiveness of material use and reducing the use of toxic chemicals. It advocates new directions for the material sciences and government policies on materials. And it argues that manufacturers, suppliers, and customers need to set more socially responsible policies for products and services to achieve higher environmental and health goals.