In a new study researchers have identified some key pressing issues and risks associated with chemicals in environment.
Team of researchers at University of York has identified the 22 most important research questions that need to be answered to fill the most pressing knowledge gaps over the next decade. Researchers say that chemicals released into the environment by human activity are resulting in biodiversity loss; increased natural hazards; threats to food, water and energy security; negative impacts on human health and degradation of environmental quality.
These pressing issues have been highlighted in the study published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The list includes questions about which chemicals pose the greatest threat to European populations and ecosystems, where the hotspots of key contaminants are around the globe, and how we can develop methods to protect the environment.
The research, which resulted from a recent ‘big questions’ exercise involving researchers from across Europe, aims to serve as a roadmap for policy makers, regulators, industry and funders and result in a more coordinated approach to studying and regulating chemicals in the environment.
The study aims to help focus scientific effort on the questions that really matter and inform decisions about the type of research needed to update policies and regulations.
A key suggestion in the report is that the harmful effects of chemicals on human health and the environment should be considered in combination with other stressors.
One of the authors added that considering chemicals in isolation can result in a simplistic assessment that doesn’t account for the complexity of the real world. For example, a fish won’t be exposed to a single chemical but to hundreds if not thousands of chemicals. Other pressures, such as temperature stress, will also be at play and it is likely that these components work together to adversely affect ecosystem health.