New Papers Indicate Climate Change May Intensify Chemical Risks Print E-mail
Climate Change and Chemical Risks

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Featured by NIEHS a member of the U.S. Global Change Research Program

Pesticides, air pollutants, and other contaminants could become increasingly harmful to human health due to climate change, according to a new series of papers published in Environmental Toxicology Chemistry (ET&C).

The seven publications, which appeared in ET&C’s January 2013 issue, present evidence that climate change could affect how chemicals are transported and cause toxicity in both ecosystems and people. These impacts could mean that chemical risk assessment practices will demand swift modification and adaptation.

“Risk assessors and public health practitioners need to understand how climate change may alter chemical risks to people in the future,” said one of the papers’ lead authors John Balbus, M.D., who is leading the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences's (NIEHS) Global Environmental Health and Sustainable Development projects. “Existing data sources and assumptions used in exposure and risk assessment may not apply. Environmental health researchers and risk assessors will need to consider interactions between climate-related stressors and chemical stressors and other ways that future risks may be changing,” he added.

In their report, Balbus and his co-authors detail four broad groups of chemicals — natural toxins, pesticides, air pollutants, and legacy contaminants, such as dioxins, PCBs, and mercury — to illustrate the impact of climate change on the likelihood and severity of chemical insults to human health. Read the full story here.