Scientists warn that the toxic cocktail of chemicals that is now contaminating the planet threatens the stability and health of the global ecosystems on which humanity depends.
They also mentioned that plastics are of high concern, along with 350,000 synthetic chemical pesticides, industrial compound, and antibiotics. Plastic pollution is now widespread from the summit of Mount Everest down to the bottom of the oceans.
The study concluded that chemical pollution has reached a planetary boundary. This is the point at which human-made changes have pushed the Earth out of its stable environment over the last 10,000 years.
Chemical pollution can cause damage to the physical and biological processes that are essential for life on Earth. Pesticides kill many non-target species of insects that are vital to ecosystems and the provision and use of clean water, food, and air.
Since 1950, there has been a fiftyfold rise in chemical production. This is expected to triple by 2050 according to Patricia Villarrubia Gmez, a PhD candidate at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. She was part of the study team. The speed at which societies produce and release new chemicals into the environment is not consistent in maintaining a safe operating area for humanity.
Dr Sarah Cornell, associate professor and principal researcher at SRC said that for a long time people have known that chemical pollution is a problem. They haven’t thought about it at the global scale. This work brings chemical pollution, particularly plastics, into the story about how people are changing our planet.
Scientists said that some threats were more effectively addressed, such as CFC chemicals, which destroy the ozone layer and protect it from harmful ultraviolet rays.
It is difficult to determine if chemical pollution has crossed a global boundary. There is no preindustrial baseline, which is not the case with the climate crisis or the preindustrial level of CO.2The atmosphere. There are over 350,000 chemical compounds available for use. Only a small number of these have been tested for safety.
To assess the situation, the research used a combination number of measurements. These included the rapid rise in chemical production and their release into nature, which is much faster than authorities can track or investigate.
The assessment also considered the well-known adverse effects of certain chemicals, such as their use in the extraction of fossil fuels to create them, and their leaking into nature. The scientists acknowledged that there was limited data in some areas, but they stated that the evidence pointed to a breach at the planetary boundary.
There are signs that things are not going in the right direction every step of their way, said Prof Bethanie Almroth, University of Gothenburg. The total weight of plastics now exceeds that of all living mammals, for example. To me, this is a clear indicator that we have crossed a threshold. We are in trouble, but we have options to reverse some of it.
Villarrubia Gmez stated: It is important to shift to a circular economy. This means changing materials and products to be reused and not wasted.
Researchers said that stronger regulation was necessary and that there should be a fixed limit on chemical production and releases in the future, just as carbon targets aim at ending greenhouse gas emissions. Their study was Published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology
There is a growing demand for international action on chemicals. plasticsIncluding the establishment of a Global scientific body for chemical pollutantsIt is similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Professor Sir Ian Boyd, University of St Andrews, was not involved in the study. He stated: The increase of the chemical burden is diffuse and insidious. Although the individual toxic effects of chemicals can be difficult to detect, this does NOT mean that the overall effect is unlikely to be insignificant.
These effects are not something that regulation is designed to detect. As a result, we are often unaware of what is happening. In this situation, we don’t have much scientific certainty about the effects of new chemicals. Therefore, it is important to be more cautious with regards to emitted chemicals.
Boyd, a former chief scientist advisor to the UK government, stated in 2017 that regulators around world believed that pesticides were safe to be used on large scales across different landscapes.
The chemical pollution planetary border is the fifth of nine scientists believe have been crossed. others being global heating, the destruction and loss of wild habitats, loss biodiversity, and excessive nitrogen/phosphorus polluting.