University of Pittsburgh
November 6, 2005

Pitt Professor Known for "Green" Research and Curriculum Development to Speak at National Research Council Workshop Today


PITTSBURGH-University of Pittsburgh professor Eric Beckman, internationally known for creating an innovative curriculum for classroom and laboratory work on "green" science aimed at protecting the environment and human health, will discuss Pitt's curriculum and his own research on chlorine and plastics at the National Research Council's Chemical Sciences Roundtable in Washington, D.C., today at 3:45 p.m.

Beckman, who is Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering at Pitt and serves as codirector of the Mascaro Sustainability Initiative in the University's School of Engineering, has introduced product design courses on green, or sustainable, topics into the undergraduate coursework at Pitt so that alternatives to harmful products can be developed. Beckman is researching a substitute for the ubiquitous polyvinyl chlorate (PVC) plastic, found in plumbing pipes, children's toys, and other household products.

The chlorine that makes up more than half of PVC plastic is detrimental to the environment during the manufacturing process, during transportation, and when it is burned or breaks down. Birth defects, impaired neurological development, reproduction complications, cancer, and immune suppression have been linked to the resulting dioxin.

Beckman will speak during a workshop on "Green Chemistry and Engineering Education" organized by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable of the National Research Council (NRC). The workshop will advocate for widespread implementation of green chemistry and chemical engineering into undergraduate and graduate education and explore ways of doing so. It also will focus on integrating green chemistry and engineering into established and developing chemistry and chemical engineering curricula. The NRC is part of the National Academies, located at 500 Fifth St., NW, Washington, D.C.

Pitt's Mascaro Sustainability Initiative is dedicated to promoting and supporting interdisciplinary research and education programs that focus on green construction and the sustainable use of water. More information is available at

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