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Planetary boundary for environmental pollutants such as plastics now exceeded

For the first time, an international team of researchers has assessed the impact on the stability of the Earth system of the cocktail of synthetic chemicals and other “novel entities” flooding the environment.

Chemical Factory
Chemical Factory. Photo: Robin Summer/Unsplash

There has been a 50-fold increase in the production of chemicals since 1950. This is projected to triple again by 2050, according to a new study from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Researchers conclude that planetary boundary now has been exceeded, which raises the risks to the stability of the Earth system.

In the study in the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology, 14 scientists conclude that humanity has exceeded a planetary boundary related to environmental pollutants including plastics.

”The pace that societies are producing and releasing new chemicals and other novel entities into the environment is not consistent with staying within a safe operating space for humanity,” says co-author Patricia Villarubia-Gómez from the Stockholm Resilience Centre

The rate at which these pollutants are appearing in the environment far exceeds the capacity of governments to assess global and regional risks, let alone control any potential problems, researchers warn. 

Read more att the Stockholm Resilience Centre