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About Topic 9


The mission of Topic 9 is to work towards a healthy environment that is minimally compromised by chemical pollution and safeguards health and well-being of people. The quality of our lives has improved using services provided by chemicals but environmental pollution contributes to burden of disease and causes adverse environmental effects. We are exposed to a multitude of chemicals through multiple pathways from different sources. Topic 9 proposes new approaches to advance hazard assessment by accounting for the totality of chemicals in our bodies and the environment and by relating exposure to mixtures of chemicals through mechanistic networks to adverse outcomes. The acquired knowledge will support sustainable chemistry and improve environmental monitoring.

Our focus:

Organisms in their environment are exposed to a multitude of potentially harmful substances. 16% of all global premature human deaths are estimated to be attributable to pollution. Topic 9 aims at understanding the fate and effects of chemicals from both an ecosystem and a human health perspective. It strives to aggregate different stressors for their joint impact. Understanding of the sources, fate and effect of mixtures of chemicals in the environment, including biota and humans, informs approaches for design of sustainable chemicals and their integrated risk assessment. It enables better design of future monitoring and management strategies. This research provides tools for coping with the food-water-energy security nexus in collaboration with other Topics of the Program.

Topic 9 seeks to innovate risk assessment by introducing novel concepts and methods to deal with mixtures and demonstrating their use in real-world landscape-scale case studies. Synergies will result from integrating environmental chemistry with systems biology, ecology and epidemiology. This approach promises to contribute to a mechanistic understanding of disease and adverse ecological outcomes that supports the EU strategy for a non-toxic environment.

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Recent Highlights

Is global plastic pollution nearing an irreversible tipping point?

Press Release: Science paper "The global threat from plastic pollution"

Plastic pollution accumulating in an area of the environment is considered “poorly reversible” if natural mineralization processes occurring there are slow and engineered remediation solutions are improbable. Potential impacts from poorly reversible plastic pollution include changes to carbon and nutrient cycles; habitat changes within soils, sediments, and aquatic ecosystems; co-occurring biological impacts on endangered or keystone species; ecotoxicity; and related societal impacts. The rational response is to rapidly reduce plastic emissions through reductions in consumption of virgin plastic materials, along with internationally coordinated strategies for waste management.


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