Researchers warn against the use of synthetic substances: Chemical pollution has passed the safety limit for the planet

Fareeha Arshad
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

In a recent study published in Environmental Science & Technology, scientists warn about the excessive usage of synthetic chemicals in our daily life, which has surpassed all the safety limits for our planet and pushes our planet into the danger zone. A little less than half a million artificial chemicals are available in the market, including industrial and laboratory chemicals. This number has only seen a rise in the past century, and if not stopped, it will continue to rise in the coming years. However, the increase in chemicals will only push our planet deeper into the danger zone it already is in.

Chemical production has grown by over fifty times in the past six decades. Scientists predict that this number is only going to multiply by three times in another three decades. Even if we plan to pause the current rate of chemical production, we will not be able to reverse the damage we have caused to the environment. Some of the chemicals are not biodegradable, remain in the environment for a long time, and cause severe persistent environmental issues.

In 2009, researchers put forward a shortlist of nine frontiers that kept our planet from danger and made it ideal for human existence. However, six years later, they updated the list and added that humans had already crossed four of those nine boundaries that included climate change, the release of greenhouse gases, rapid increase in extinction rate, and the changes in land systems. Like these boundaries, limiting the overuse of chemicals is also necessary.

Many chemicals that are available in the market are untested for future impacts. The ones that are known and tested also hold many potential risks. For instance, they may react with other physical, chemical, or biological elements and cause toxicity for the environment. Recently, it has been discovered that chemicals in sunscreens are toxic against corals, while antidepressants can accumulate in water and affect fishes and their habitat. Therefore, such chemicals must be scarcely used, and the recyclable materials must be developed to produce minimal waste to conserve the environment better.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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