Radioactive materials play an important role in our lives. Some of the electricity you use comes from a nuclear power plant which uses them. Radio-isotopes are used in many medical applications. But did you know that once used, radioactive substances must be disposed off carefully?
After you have done with your chemistry practicals at school, what do you do? You pour the chemicals down the sink. Now imagine thousands of factories doing that, and you'll realize we have a problem. Luckily a solution is coming about - green chemistry.
If you watch news on TV, you may have seen images of petroleum spilling into the sea in the Gulf of Mexico. It causes a lot of environmental destruction, as it affects the fishes and other creatures of the sea, as well as birds like pelicans and sea gulls that live by the sea. But why does an oil spill cause so much destruction?
When you next go shopping, you'll probably come back with a plastic bag or two. Try an experiment with it. Take a flower pot, and bury a paper bag and a plastic bag in it. Wait for a month, and dig them out. Which one had degraded?
Every activity we do leads to the emission of some carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Do you know that you can now measure how much carbon dioxide you are using, and thus know how to reduce it? This is done by trading 'carbon credits'.
Chemical science has done much in the previous century to benefit humans - from creating new drugs, creating exciting new materials and discovering the basis of life. But as Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility. And the biggest responsibility is to protect the environment.