Chemicals are very harmful to our environment especially those chemicals released into the environment by human activity. The side-effects include biodiversity loss, increased natural hazards, threats to food, water, and energy security; negative impacts on human health and degradation of environmental quality. An international study published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry involving scientists from the University of York has listed 22 most important research questions related to this matter.

The list includes questions like 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 aims at handling the situation in a more coordinated way about how to regulate chemicals in the environment.

Our research has highlighted international scientists’ research priorities and our key knowledge gaps when it comes to the risks and impacts of chemicals. This research is part of a much larger global horizon scanning exercise co-ordinated by the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. – Dr Alistair Boxall from the University of York’s Environment Department

Similar studies to ours are being performed in North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Taken together these exercises should help to focus global research into the impacts of chemicals in the environment.” He added, “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.” One of the many suggestions was that the harmful effects should not be considered as an individual effect but its effects and the environment should be considered in combination with other stressors.