For example, in the area of marine microplastics pollution we brought together experts in a workshop that led to outputs that were used to inform the UK government’s Environmental Audit Committee inquiry on a proposed microplastics ban in cosmetic products. New scientific research is now being considered by government to study the potential adverse effects of microplastics if ingested by humans.
A themed issue of our journal ‘Analytical Methods’ is currently being prepared on the chemical analysis of microplastics in the environment. We continue to highlight how the chemical sciences community can contribute to understanding and solving the massive problem of microplastics and engage with others on this issue as government policy is shaped.
In the area of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), we have brought together scientists to design new experiments that can help us understand whether or not these substances can cause adverse effects in humans at very low doses. The resulting research proposals have been shared with other scientists at the 7th Fresenius Conference on Endocrine Disrupters to encourage the community to explore these new avenues of research that can help to contribute to future regulatory policy.
Science is global
We contribute to international scientific workshops on environmental challenges. This year we have supported chemists to attend Newton Fund researcher-links workshops in India, on issues such as urban air quality and materials for water purification. This type of event brings early career and established researchers together to share knowledge between geographies and forge new links between researchers in important Global Challenge areas.
Regulation has been identified as one of three key priorities in relation to the UK exiting the EU by our Council, as highlighted in an article by our President, Professor Sir John Holman. Chemicals regulations, such as REACH within the EU, are critical for the chemicals industry, and key EU environmental regulations for air quality, water quality and waste will come under scrutiny in the months ahead. We want to ensure discussions around the UK’s future regulatory framework are informed by scientific evidence.
Next year, we will look at the science underpinning regulation of chemicals when present as mixtures in the environment. As explained in a recent review in RSC Advances, humans and wildlife are exposed to hundreds of chemicals at varying doses every day, for example in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and from the consumer products we use. We want to interrogate the science in this area, look for focused research avenues for the chemical sciences, to help generate new evidence that can inform future policy and ensure effective regulation.
We know that our members have a wealth of knowledge and experience across this area. That is why we have set up a new mechanism called the Environment & Regulation Collective (EnReC). Any Royal Society of Chemistry member with expertise in areas related to chemicals and environmental regulation is invited to join. This is your opportunity to work with us to help inform and shape our activities in this area, including those at the interface between chemistry, environment and regulation.
If you are a Royal Society of Chemistry member and interested in finding out more about the Environment and Regulation Collective, please email us using the 'Science Team' link on the left of this page.