Toward sustainable environmental quality: Priority research questions for Europe

Paul J. Van den Brink, Alistair B.A. Boxall*, Lorraine Maltby, Bryan W. Brooks, Murray A. Rudd, Thomas Backhaus, David Spurgeon, Violaine Verougstraete, Charmaine Ajao, Gerald T. Ankley, Sabine E. Apitz, Kathryn Arnold, Tomas Brodin, Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles, Jennifer Chapman, Jone Corrales, Marie Agnès Coutellec, Teresa F. Fernandes, Jerker Fick, Alex T. FordGemma Giménez Papiol, Ksenia J. Groh, Thomas H. Hutchinson, Hank Kruger, Jussi V.K. Kukkonen, Stefania Loutseti, Stuart Marshall, Derek Muir, Manuel E. Ortiz-Santaliestra, Kai B. Paul, Andreu Rico, Ismael Rodea-Palomares, Jörg Römbke, Tomas Rydberg, Helmut Segner, Mathijs Smit, Cornelis A.M. van Gestel, Marco Vighi, Inge Werner, Elke I. Zimmer, Joke van Wensem

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


    The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals have been established to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals will require a healthy and productive environment. An understanding of the impacts of chemicals which can negatively impact environmental health is therefore essential to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, current research on and regulation of chemicals in the environment tend to take a simplistic view and do not account for the complexity of the real world, which inhibits the way we manage chemicals. There is therefore an urgent need for a step change in the way we study and communicate the impacts and control of chemicals in the natural environment. To do this requires the major research questions to be identified so that resources are focused on questions that really matter. We present the findings of a horizon-scanning exercise to identify research priorities of the European environmental science community around chemicals in the environment. Using the key questions approach, we identified 22 questions of priority. These questions covered overarching questions about which chemicals we should be most concerned about and where, impacts of global megatrends, protection goals, and sustainability of chemicals; the development and parameterization of assessment and management frameworks; and mechanisms to maximize the impact of the research. The research questions identified provide a first-step in the path forward for the research, regulatory, and business communities to better assess and manage chemicals in the natural environment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2281-2295
    Number of pages15
    JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


    Acknowledgments—We would like to thank the financial support provided by Baylor University, Tony and Donna Robert, the University of York, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. In kind support was provided by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. We deeply acknowledge all experts that anonymously submitted questions and provided their rankings of the priority questions, which made this exercise possible.

    FundersFunder number
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Baylor University
    University of York
    Natural Environment Research CouncilNE/M01438X/1, ceh020007


      • Chemical management
      • Environmental risk assessment
      • Global megatrends
      • Key questions exercise
      • Sustainability


      Dive into the research topics of 'Toward sustainable environmental quality: Priority research questions for Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

      Cite this