Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 55-68

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

An overview: origins and development of green chemistry

  • J. A. LinthorstAffiliated withDepartment of History, Maastricht UniversityDescartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Utrecht University Email author 


This article provides an overview of the origins and development of green chemistry. Aiming to contribute to the understanding of green chemistry, basically from a historical point of view, this overview argues that contextual influences and the user friendliness of the term are drivers for the explosive growth of green chemistry. It is observed that political support for its development has been significant, in which the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 was a formal political starting-point, but informally the origins of green chemistry go back to before 1990. US EPA played an important role in all this, but did not solely contribute to the growth of green chemistry.


Green chemistry History of chemistry Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 US EPA