The ACS Division of Environmental Chemistry Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

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The ACS Division of Environmental Chemistry Celebrates Its 100thAnniversaryDuring recent decades, the 5000 members of the Divisionof Environmental Chemistry have made great advances inunderstanding the fundamental science of global environmentalsystems, in developing solutions to diverse environmentalconcerns, and in informing the public of the need for change inmultidisciplinary, environmental thinking. It is easy to forgetthat similar advances were made also in the beginning of theDivision in 1913.Perhaps a JACS proceedings sums it up best. Prior to 1913,chemists evaluating water supplies, sewage disposal, and relatedsubjects were presenting papers within several sections of theAmerican Chemical Society and in the general session of theAmerican Water Works Association. Chemists of neither groupwere satisfied, and the same was true of superintendents andengineers, and papers of interest to them were scattered amongthe more numerous papers on general chemical andbacteriological subjects at national meetings.1To answer this need, Professor Edward Bartow proposed theformation of a technical section within ACS that would bedevoted to water problems. The Division was authorized byCouncil at the New Orleans meeting in 1914. ACS PresidentArthur D. Little appointed Professor Bartow as chairman. Thefirst executive committee of the Division of Water, Sewage, andSanitation Chemistry was elected in 1915.2 In a reflection ofsocietys growing needs and membership interest, the Divisionsname was changed to the Division of Water and WasteChemistry in 1959 and to the Division of Water, Air, and WasteChemistry in 1964. In 1973, the Division assumed its currentname, the Division of Environmental Chemistry (ENVR).Throughout its first century, ENVR took on the environ-mental challenges of the day. Focal areas of the past that arejust as important today included development of sophisticated,new analytical techniques for identifying the presence ofpollutants in the environment, assessing the potential adverseeffects of environmental contaminants; understanding chemicaltransport and transformation in water, soil, and air; promotingthe prevention of environmental pollution; and inspiringsolutions to the restoration of environmental quality. Thisscience-based focus and legacy has encouraged and supportedthe development of both cost-effective treatment technologiesand replacements for chemicals of concern. More recently, theholistic integration of all these facets is influencing green andsustainable chemistry advances.Many important advances in environmental chemistry havebeen facilitated through numerous strong internal and externallinkages developed by ENVR and the multidisciplinarytechnical programs that resulted. Starting in 1954, for example,ENVR has regularly cosponsored symposia with the ACSCommittee on Air Pollution (now the Committee onEnvironmental Improvement).3 ENVR also worked with theACS Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs on theCleaning Our Environment: the Chemical Basis for Actionpublished in 1969.4 ENVR has more recently engaged theinternational community through collaborations with IUPAC,EuChemS, SETAC, and has fostered environmental develop-ment in the South Eastern European Environmental Confer-ence.Many groundbreaking technical advancements have beenencouraged or recognized by prestigious publications, pro-grams, and awards sponsored by Division of EnvironmentalChemistry. As in the beginning of the Division, the multi-disciplinary nature of environmental progress led to dispersal ofknowledge over many journals. ENVR was active in thelaunching of the ACS journal Environmental Science &Technology (ES&T) in 1967. The relationship between ENVRand ES&T has strengthened over the years and currently theACS Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Scienceand Engineering is cosponsored by ENVR and ES&T. Otherearly career awards, including the Ellen Gonter award foroutstanding research papers and the Merit award for first timepresenters within ENVR sessions, the American Water WorksAssociation Larson Aquatic Research Support Grants, and theGraduate Student Exchange Program with SETAC honorexcellent students and early career professionals. The morerecent Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Undergraduate Fellow-ship represents an important collaboration between theDivision, the National Institute of Standards & Technology(NIST), and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute.As the Division begins another century of service to itsmembership, it continues to recognize the complex nature ofenvironmental problems and strives to be the premiere globalprofessional organization providing a dynamic, interactive, andintegrated community for those applying chemistry to under-standing and solving environmental and sustainability issues.Tracy WilliamsonRuth HathawayJurgen ExnerAllan FordGeorge Cobb*,Division of Environmental Chemistry, AmericanChemical Society, Washington, DC 20036, United StatesJHE Technology Systems, Inc., Almo, California 94507,United StatesDepartment of Environmental Science, Baylor University,Waco, Texas 76706, United States AUTHOR INFORMATIONCorresponding Author*E-mail: george_cobb@baylor.edu.NotesViews expressed in this editorial are those of the author and notnecessarily the views of the ACS.The authors declare no competing financial interest.Published: January 7, 2014Commentpubs.acs.org/est 2014 American Chemical Society 1 dx.doi.org/10.1021/es4055753 | Environ. Sci. Technol. 2014, 48, 12mailto:george_cobb@baylor.edupubs.acs.org/est REFERENCES(1) J. Am. Chem. Soc. Proc. 1913, 35, 63.(2) Bartow, E. The Division of Water, Sewage and SanitationChemistry. Ind. Eng. Chem News Ed. December 1939, 17, 776.(3) Bramer, H. C. Fifty Years in the Division of Water and WasteChemistry, preprint of papers presented at the 145th meeting of theAmerican Chemical Society: New York NY, September 813, 1963;pp 16.(4) Swope, H. G. History of the Division of EnvironmentalChemistry , Division of Environmental Chemistry Archives, 1976.Environmental Science & Technology Commentdx.doi.org/10.1021/es4055753 | Environ. Sci. Technol. 2014, 48, 122