Why is chemical pollution a source of concern?
There are several major groups of chemicals: pesticides and biocides; pharmaceuticals; industrial chemicals such as solvents, flame retardants and plastic softeners; and unwanted by-products such as polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and furans. In total, there are several 10,000 chemicals on the market worldwide. Chemicals are released from many sources, enter the environment, reach food and drinking water of humans, and cause many types of adverse effects in humans and wildlife.
A particular problem is the presence of many chemicals in the human body, because these chemicals can interact with the hormonal system and may lead to reduced fertility, a reduction in the number of males born, and adverse effects in the fetus.
This large-scale problem has stirred a public debate and is, for example, illustrated by:
There are also other sources of concern about the effects of chemicals present in the environment. One is the transport of chemicals to the Arctic and Antarctic, where they may form reservoirs because degradation is much slower in cold and dark environments. From these reservoirs, the chemicals can enter the food chain and accumulate in top predators and humans.
The goal of the IPCP is to collect scientific knowledge about such chemical pollution problems and to provide summaries and interpretations of the available knowledge for decision makers and the public.
The IPCP collaborates with NORMAN, the Network of Reference Laboratories for Monitoring Emerging Environmental Pollutants.