Difference Between Green Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry

Green chemistry and environmental chemistry are two branches of chemistry that are concerned with the impact of chemical products and processes on the environment. While both fields share some similarities, they have some significant differences. This essay aims to highlight these differences and provide a comprehensive understanding of both green chemistry and environmental chemistry.

What is Green Chemistry?

The field of chemistry known as "green chemistry," or "sustainable chemistry," focuses on developing chemical processes and products that generate as few potentially harmful byproducts as possible.

By adhering to Green Chemistry's tenets, policymakers, institutions, scientists, and engineers may protect and benefit the economy, earth, environment, resources, and people by developing new ways to reduce waste, save energy, and find substitutes for harmful chemicals.

What is Environmental Chemistry?

The study of naturally occurring biochemical processes is known as environmental chemistry. It entails knowing what kinds of naturally occurring chemicals are there, how much of each is there, and what impacts they have in an unpolluted setting. This field of study is essential for determining the extent to which human activities have altered the natural environment through things like the discharge of toxic chemicals from factories and pollution.

Together with chemistry, it incorporates fields like as physics, biology, agriculture, materials science, public health, sanitary engineering, and many more. To sum up, environmental chemistry is the study of the effects of chemical species in the hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere, as well as their origins, reactions, and final resting places; it also investigates their transport and the effect that human activities have on these different parts of the environment.

Differences: Green Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry

The following table highlights the major differences between Green Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry −


Green Chemistry

Environmental Chemistry


It is an area of chemical engineering that has established and created a set of guidelines, principles, products, and processes that alleviate or eliminate the utilization and generation of hazardous substances at the source.

Green Chemistry is a key to sustainable development, as it directs and drives the scientific community to the remedial and innovative solutions for the existing environmental problems.

Environmental chemistry is the branch of science that focusses on the biochemical process occurring in air, water, aquatic and terrestrial establishments and the impacts of pollution and other anthropogenic activities on them.

This concept should not be confused with sustainable or green chemistry, which emphasizes to minimize pollution at its source.

Environmental chemistry includes topics such as marine chemistry, environmental modelling, biochemistry, geography, astrochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, geochemistry, and pollution remediation.


  • Designing Safer Chemicals

  • Prevention

  • Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries

  • The design of energy efficient processes

  • Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses

  • The use of Renewable Energy resources and Feedstocks

  • Reduce Derivatives

  • Catalysis

  • Design for Degradation

  • Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention

  • Real-time analysis for Pollution Prevention

  • Atom Economy

Environmental Chemistry does not have any principles but parameters and measurable factors that focus on identification of natural resources, source of pollutants and their impacts. These can include −

  • Organometallic compounds, heavy metal contamination of land by industry, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon, Nutrients leaching from agricultural land into water courses (algae), urban runoff of pollutants like include gasoline, motor oil and other hydrocarbon compounds

  • Contamination of air, water and soil

  • Environmental indicators –

  • pollution parameters

  • Method of monitoring / testing

  • Mitigation or control

  • Elimination, Recycle, Reduction and Efficient Treatment


The environmental and societal benefits of green chemistry include

  • Minimising negative environmental effects of chemical processing and manufacturing

  • Developing and offering technologies that are beneficial and economically competitive for industry

  • Using renewable resources and minimizing consumption of non- renewable resources

  • Avoiding the use of bio accumulative, persistent, toxic, and otherwise hazardous materials

Human Health

  • Cleaner air

  • Cleaner water

  • Reduced use of toxic and hazardous materials and maximum safety for workers in the chemical establishment

  • Safer consumer products of all types

  • Less exposure to such toxic chemicals as endocrine disruptors (chemicals that interfere with hormonal systems at certain doses)

  • Safer and healthy food – removal of tenacious toxic chemicals that are prevalent in the food chain


  • Less suffering to the wildlife, forests and plants due to reduction in release of chemicals ending up in the environment

  • Less chemical disruption of ecosystems

  • Lower potential for ozone depletion, global warming, and smog formation

  • Minimization in dumping of hazardous wastes in the landfills

Economy and business:

  • Higher yields for chemical reactions

  • Minimal synthetic steps and swift manufacturing process

  • Saving of energy and water and increased plant capacity

  • Waste minimization

  • Minimal investment on remedial measures

  • Reduction in use of fossil fuels thereby minimizing their depletion

  • Minimized size of manufacturing and processing plant or carbon footprint through maximized throughput

  • Improved competitiveness of chemical manufacturers and their customers


Green chemistry and environmental chemistry are both important fields of chemistry that are concerned with the impact of chemicals on the environment. While they share some similarities, they have some significant differences, including their focus of research and their focus on the life cycle of chemicals.

Green chemistry focuses on the design and development of environmentally friendly chemicals and processes, while environmental chemistry focuses on the study of the impacts of chemicals on the environment and the development of methods for mitigating these impacts.

Both fields are essential for ensuring a sustainable future, and their integration is necessary for a comprehensive approach to the protection of the environment.

Updated on: 18-Apr-2023


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