Too much chemical pollution! One path forward.

February 24, 2022

Dr. Miriam Diamond
Department of Earth Sciences and other cross-appointments at the University of Toronto

We have exceeded the planetary boundary for chemicals and plastics – that’s the conclusion of our recently published paper (Persson L et al. Environmental Science & Technology https://doi-org./10.1021/acs.est.1c04158). Our conclusion is based on evidence showing that the rate of production and release of chemicals and plastics exceeds our ability to assess their safety. To address this serious imbalance between production and release vs ability to assess and control, we propose several measures, including a fixed cap on chemical and plastic production and release.

Global problems such as this, need solutions achieved through international governance. A proposal is coming to the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) at the end of February 2022 to establish a science-policy panel for chemicals, pollution and waste. The panel would be akin to the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) by providing an autonomous and authoritative body with a broad mandate to identify new and address existing issues of global concern. The panel would be the third pillar beside IPCC for climate change and IPBES for biodiversity.

This seminar will present the rationale and need for this new panel by first explaining our planetary boundary analysis, then discussing the status of the UNEA5.2 resolution for establishing a new international body, and hopefully will generate discussion and support.


D.r Miriam L. Diamond is a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and School of the Environment with cross-appointments to several other departments including Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at UTSC.

Her science and policy research has been published in over 200 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, in addition to receiving media attention. Prof. Diamond is an Associate Editor of the journal Environmental Science and Technology, was the co-chair of the Canadian Chemical Management Plan Science Committee from 2017 to 2021, and is involved in several national and international organizations. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Geographical Society and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. In 2007 she was named Canadian Environmental Scientist of the Year and was a finalist for 2018 the Nature Inspiration Award from the Canadian Museum of Nature.

photo of Dr. Miriam Diamond