Impact of Chemistry on Society
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Chemistry is the scientific discipline focusing on the study of compounds comprised of atoms, elements and molecules, and how their composition, structure, properties, and behavior change as they undergo reactions with other compounds. Chemistry studies the bonds that form between various atoms and molecules as they form the compounds that make up the world around us. Chemistry as a science has a long history spanning several thousand years and has slowly been refined as the years have passed with many more discoveries yet to be made. Medicinal or pharmaceutical chemistry is one such discipline of chemistry focusing on the design and synthesis of various compounds and substances to produce a pharmaceutical agent or drug that will hopefully prove beneficial to the health of humans with little to no side-effects. Medicinal chemistry also involves a degree of biology as it is needed to observe how various compounds will interact with the human biology and immune system so that a drug may be beneficial. Most of society is unaware of the specifics of pharmaceutical chemistry only being aware of drugs produced or being made aware of apparent breakthroughs on new and possible drugs that may cure certain sicknesses through the media without seeing much changing. Most notably vaccines for strains of viruses or bacteria that appear and claim a number of lives such as Ebola or strong strains of flu. Other than these many articles appear on possible new cancer treatments or other deadly ailments that have thus far proven hard to outright cure.
There are many impacts both positive and negative due to advancements in chemistry over the past years ranging from both large and small. Personally, I believe the positives to outweigh the negative impacts and I believe that the majority of society is thankful for the large improvements in the quality of life that such advancements have brought. Although while generally positive there are some noticeable negatives.
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The chemical industry is a major polluter
The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics categorizes the following as chemical manufacturing: basic chemicals including pigments, dyes, gases, and petrochemicals; synthetic materials like plastics; paint products, cleaning products; and other chemicals including film, ink, and explosives. Pharmaceutical manufacturing is also considered under the umbrella of chemical manufacturing. These products and their related chemicals are essential to society and are needed to facilitate our daily life. They treat medical problems, improve standards of living and are relied upon for a vast range of activities. However, during the production of these chemicals and products, dangerous by-products and waste are often generated. A common feature in almost all of the organic chemical industry is the use of VOCs as solvents and raw materials. The manufacture of solvents is also a major part of the chemical industry. The dye industry and pesticide industry are part of the chemical industry and are major contributors to the pollution problems of chemical manufacturing, but they are addressed separately in this report.