According to specialists, the worldwide mix of chemical pollution now threaten the stability of eco – systems on which humanity depends.
Plastics, as well as 350,000 synthetic chemicals like as pesticides, industrial compounds, and medicines, are of special concern, they said. Plastic pollution has now been discovered from the pinnacle of Mount Everest to deepest waters, and some harmful compounds, such as PCBs, have a long-term and extensive impact.
Chemical pollution has passed a “planetary threshold,” the point at which human-caused alterations to the Earth push it beyond the stable environment of the last 10,000 years, according to the study.
Chemical pollution endangers the Earth’s systems by disrupting the biological & physical processes which support all life on the planet. Pesticides, for example, eliminate numerous non-target insects that are essential to all ecosystems and, as a result, to the provisions of clean air, water, and food. See Also Air Pollution
“Chemical production has increased fiftyfold since 1950, and it is expected to triple again by 2050,” explained lPatricia Villarrubia-Gómez, a PhD candidate & research assistant just at Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), who was a member of the study team. “The rate at which societies are manufacturing & releasing new chemicals into environment is incompatible with humanity’s ability to operate within a safe working space.”
“People have understood for a long time which chemical pollution is a negative thing,” said Dr. Sarah Cornell, a associate professor & main researcher at SRC. However, they haven’t considered it on a worldwide scale. This project incorporates chemical contamination, particularly plastics, into the narrative of how humans are altering the earth.”
Some risks, such as the CFC compounds that deplete the ozone layer & its protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation, have been addressed to a greater extent, according to the experts.
Unlike the climate issue and the pre-industrial amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, establishing whether chemical pollution has passed a global barrier is difficult because there is no pre-human baseline. There are around 350,000 chemical compound registered for usage, and only a small percentage of these has been evaluated for safety.
As a result, the study used a variety of measurements to examine the issue. These included the rate of chemical manufacturing, which is quickly increasing, & their release into the environment, that is occurring far quicker than authorities’ ability to track or analyze the consequences.
The study included the well-known detrimental consequences of various chemicals, ranging from the extraction of fossil fuel through their release into the environment. Although the data was restricted in many regions, the scientists concluded that the weight of the evidence indicated to a breaching of the planet barrier.
“Every step along the process, there’s evidence which things are going in the wrong direction,” said team member Prof Bethanie Carney Almroth of the University of Gothenburg. “For example, total mass of plastics currently exceed the overall mass of all living mammals.” There’s a pretty apparent sign that we’ve passed a line, in my opinion. We’re in difficulty, but there are certain things we could do to help.”
“Shifting to a circular economy is absolutely vital,” Villarrubia-Gómez remarked. This entails altering materials and goods so that they can be recycled rather than discarded.”
Stronger control and, in the future, a definite cap on chemicals production & release are needed, according to the researchers, much as carbon targets aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Science & Technology was the publication where their research was published.
There are increasing calls for worldwide action on chemicals & plastics, including the creation of a global scientific agency for chemical pollution, similar to the Inter governmental Panels on Climate Change.
“The increase of chemical burden in environment is broad and insidious,” said Prof Sir Ian Boyd of the University of St Andrews, who has not involved in the study. Even if the hazardous effects of individual compounds are difficult to detect, this doesn’t rule out the possibility of a major overall effect.
“Regulation isn’t built to identify or comprehend these consequences.” As a result, we are oblivious to what was going on. In this context, where there is a lack of scientific assurance concerning consequences, a considerably more cautious approach to new substances and the amount emitted into the environment is required.”
In 2017, Boyd, an former UK government top scientific adviser, said that authorities around the world had made the mistake of assuming that using pesticides at industrial proportions across landscapes was safe.
Chemical pollution is the fifth of nine planetary boundaries that scientists believe have been broken, with others being global warming, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, and excessive nitrogen & phosphorus pollution.