Effects of global change on chemicals in aquatic ecosystems

Published on
August 31, 2018

Today the formal agreement has been signed for the Marie Curie ITN project ‘Effects of global change on the emission, fate, effects and risks of chemicals in aquatic ecosystems’, coordinated by Paul van den Brink of Wageningen University. The competition for this call was extremely high. Wageningen was involved in 74 proposals, of which only 3 were selected. Van den Brink’s proposal is the only one that is coordinated by Wageningen University. His score was 98 out of 100. “I am very pleased that my blood, sweat and tears in this proposal payed out,” Paul van den Brink says.

The development of the Earth to 2050 will be marked by shifts in land-use and weather patterns, and by changes in the way water and food resources are obtained and managed all over the world. But we will also get older and urbanisation will continue, both affecting the use of chemicals, like pharmaceuticals. These global changes will affect the use, emissions, environmental transport pathways and fate of chemicals, and thus affect the exposure of the natural environment to chemicals and their subsequent ecological effects. These future changes may also alter the sensitivity of ecosystems to chemical exposure.

Training goals and research objectives

This project brings together a world leading and interdisciplinary consortium of universities, research institutes, industry and regulatory and governmental authorities. “We have several training goals and research objectives in the project,” says Paul van den Brink. “We will assess how the inputs of chemicals from agriculture and urban environments and their fate and transport are affected by different environmental conditions, and how this will change under Global Change scenarios. We also evaluate the ecological effects of chemicals under these changed conditions, hereby assessing the likely increase in chemical risks to ecosystem health. We identify potential adaptation and mitigation strategies that can be implemented in the short and medium term, to abate unacceptable changes in risks, and propose robust implementation pathways. And last but not least: we develop a set of tools for use by industry and policy makers, that allow the impacts of a range of Global Change related drivers on chemicals risks to be assessed and managed.”

About the consortium

The project is a cooperation between Wageningen University & Research, the University of York, the Austrian University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Stockholm University, the Czech IMDEA Agua foundation, Utrecht University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Paul van den Brink: “We will deliver the next generation of scientists, consultants and industry and governmental decision-makers who have the knowledge and skill sets required to address the changing pressures that chemicals emitted by agricultural and urban activities pose to aquatic systems on the path to 2050 and beyond.”