Title: Planetary boundaries and chemical pollution: A Grail quest?
Citation: Chemistry International vol. 36 no. 6 p. 2-4
Publisher: IUPAC
Publication Year: 2014
JRC N°: JRC91679
ISSN: 1365-2192
URI: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/ci.2014.36.issue-6/ci-2014-0603/ci-2014-0603.xml?format=INT
DOI: 10.1515/ci-2014-0603
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: In the last few years, environmental footprint concept has obtained an increasing interest by both the scientific and political communities. The chemical footprint evaluation aims at assessing at which extent actual emission of chemicals harm the ecosystems above their capability to recover (the so-called carrying capacity of the system). In a recent paper in Nature (Rockström et al. 2009), the concept of planetary boundaries has been proposed for 7 themes that should not be transgressed if we want to maintain the desirable Holocene state in which our human civilisation has developed: climate change, biodiversity loss, nitrogen and phosphorus load, stratospheric ozone depletion, ocean acidification, change in land use, atmospheric aerosol and chemical pollution. This means that it is theoretically possible to evaluate the relative performance of human activities against these thresholds. For the chemical pollution theme, the question is: ‘how much chemicals can we continue to spill out into our environment (air, water and soil) without affecting irreversible the functioning and services those ecosystems provide? Actually, the potential harm caused by a particular amount of a chemical released to the environment depends on a number of interrelated factors, including the properties of the chemical and the medium to which they are released. Due to the complexity of this interaction, especially for ecosystem, a specific multidisciplinary effort has to be made to perform this assessment.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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