- Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building - http://inhabitat.com -
The Color Green is Toxic to People, Contaminates Recycling
Posted By Bridgette Meinhold On April 5, 2010 @ 1:45 pm In Green Graphics & Packaging,Green Materials,Innovation | 7 Comments
Green is the color of nature, the environment and sustainability, but ironically the pigments used to create the color are not all that healthy or environmentally friendly. Many green pigments are actually quite toxic and even with modern dyes and pigments, green  is still problematic. Michael Braungart, co-author of Cradle-To-Cradle  and famous chemist, says , “The color green can never be green, because of the way it is made. It’s impossible to dye plastic green or to print green ink on paper without contaminating them.” So what are we to do with the chosen mascot color for sustainability and eco-friendliness?
Photo via recycle.co.uk 
Historically, green has been a difficult color to create – it often faded, degraded, and even burned holes through canvas. In the 18th and 19th century, green wallpapers and paints contained arsenic, which off-gassed toxic fumes and led to many deaths — possibly including Napoleon Bonaparte’s  in 1821. Emerald green, also known as Paris green , was incredibly toxic and was at one point used to kill rats in Parisian sewers.
Many of the super toxic green pigments  have been banned, but even the modern pigments are still environmentally unsafe. As Alex Rawsthorn  of the NYTimes reports, Pigment 7, one of the most common shades of green used in plastic and paper, contains chlorine, which can cause cancer and birth defects. Pigment 36 contains potentially hazardous bromide atoms as well as chlorine, and Pigment Green 50, which is inorganic, contains a “noxious cocktail of cobalt, titanium, nickel and zinc oxide”. So having direct contact with the pigments is unsafe, and on top of that, the pigments make green plastics and paper difficult to recycle or compost , because they contaminate everything else. If what Braungart says is true, then perhaps it’s time to choose new team colors.
Via NYTimes.com 
Lead Image ©Eric Begin Flickr 
Article printed from Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building: http://inhabitat.com
URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/ironic-twist-of-fate-the-color-green-is-toxic/
URLs in this post:
 green: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Shades_of_green
 Cradle-To-Cradle: http://www.mbdc.com/c2c_home.htm
 says: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/05/arts/05iht-design5.html
 recycle.co.uk: http://www.recycle.co.uk/
 Napoleon Bonaparte’s: http://www.victorianweb.org/history/arsenic.html
 Paris green: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Green
 green pigments: http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/text-search.tcl?query_string=pigment+green
 compost: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/11/circular-pod-tea-house-is-heated-by-compost/
 ©Eric Begin Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericbegin/377156649/
Copyright © 2011 Inhabitat Local - New York. All rights reserved.