USA today has a nice, short piece about the rise of green chemistry:
"The fundamental idea of green chemistry is that the designer of a chemical is responsible for considering what will happen to the world after the agent is put in place, says John Warner of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, which hosts the nation's only doctoral program in green chemistry.
"In the past "we've created a mess and then come up with bandages to make it less bad," says Paul Anastas..."
There is legislation coming up in the European Union called REACH ( Registration, Authorisation and Evaluation ) which goes further than previous controls on toxic chemicals and poses bigger questions for the producer/polluter.
Greenpeace UK are campaigning for tougher standards and there's a good free beginner's guide to REACH ( pdf format ) available on the web site.
Go to www.greenpeace.org.uk and click on Campaigns > Toxics > Chemicals within REACH .
Introductory article leads you to the download.