A Horizon Scan to support Chemical Pollution related policymaking for sustainable and climate resilient economies

Christopher Green, Antoaneta Bilyanska, Mags Bradley, Jason Dinsdale, Lorraine Hutt, Thomas Backhaus, Frank Boons, David Bott, Chris Collins, Sarah E Cornell, Mark Craig, Michael Depledge, Bob Diderich, Richard Fuller, Tamara S Galloway, Gary R Hutchison, Nicola Ingrey, Andrew C Johnson, Rachael Kupka, Peter MatthiessenRobin Oliver, Stewart Owen, Susan Owens, John Pickett, Sam Robinson, Kerry Sims, Pete Smith, John P Sumpter, Svetlana Tretsiakova-McNally, Mengjiao Wang, Tom Welton, Katherine J Willis, Iseult Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Whilst chemicals are vital to modern society through materials, agriculture, textiles, new technology, medicines and consumer goods, their use is not without risks. Unfortunately, our resources seem inadequate to address the breadth of chemicals challenges to the environment and human health. Therefore, it is important we use our intelligence and knowledge wisely to prepare for what lies ahead. This study used a Delphi-style approach to horizon scan future chemical threats that need to be considered in the setting of chemicals and environmental policy, which involved a multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral and multi-national panel of 25 scientists and practitioners (mainly from the UK, Europe and other industrialised nations) in a 3-stage process. 15 issues were shortlisted (from a nominated list of 48), considered by the panel to hold global relevance. The issues span from the need for new chemical manufacturing (including transitioning to non-fossil fuel feedstocks), challenges from novel materials, food imports, landfills and tyre wear, and opportunities from Artificial Intelligence, greater data transparency and the weight of evidence approach. The 15 issues can be divided into three classes; new perspectives on historic but insufficiently appreciated chemicals/issues; new or relatively new products and their associated industries, and thinking through approaches we can use to meet these challenges. Chemicals are one threat amongst many that influence the environment and human health, and interlinkages with wider issues such as climate change, and how we mitigate these, were clear in this exercise. The horizon scan highlights the value of thinking broadly and consulting widely, considering systems approaches to ensure that interventions appreciate synergies and avoid harmful trade-offs in other areas. We recommend further collaboration between researchers, industry, regulators and policy makers to perform horizon scanning to inform policy making and to develop our ability to meet these challenges, and especially to extend the approach to consider also concerns from countries with developing economies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. Environ Toxicol Chem 2023;00:0-0. © 2023 SETAC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Early online date27 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • horizon scanning
  • chemical pollution
  • early warning
  • emerging risk
  • chemicals management
  • sustainable chemicals
  • climate change
  • biodiversity boss

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