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Scientists identify most pressing issues posed by chemicals in the environment

Scientists have identified 22 key research questions surrounding the risks associated with chemicals in the environment in Europe.

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.

Now an international study, involving scientists from the IMDEA Water Institute (Ecotoxicology group) has identified the 22 most important research questions that need to be answered to fill the most pressing knowledge gaps over the next decade.

They include questions about which chemicals we should be most concerned about and where the hotspots of key contaminants are around the globe, as well as how we can develop methods to protect biodiversity and ecosystems.

The research, which resulted from a recent 'big questions' exercise involving researchers from across Europe, aims to serve as a road map for policy makers, regulators, industry and funders and result in a more coordinated approach to chemicals in the Environment from the European environmental science community.

“This research is part of a much larger global horizon scanning exercise co-ordinated by the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Similar studies to ours are being performed in N. America, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australasia. Taken together these exercises should help to focus global research into the impacts of chemicals in the environment.”

“Towards Sustainable Environmental Quality: Priority Research Questions for Europe” is published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. It is one of six papers in a global horizon scanning study.