5 episodes

A Podcast about our chemicalized world. The double-edged sword of producing and using thousands of chemicals. Resulting in huge benefits on the one hand, and substantial damages to human health and the environment on the other hand. How can we balance a complex issue that often sparks toxic discussions? What are the scientific facts, what are popular myths? How do industry, regulatory agencies, academics and civil society organizations (NGOs) view the issue?



Let's explore! Your host is Prof. Thomas Backhaus, http://www.thomasbackhaus.eu

Our chemicalized world Thomas Backhaus

    • Natural Sciences

A Podcast about our chemicalized world. The double-edged sword of producing and using thousands of chemicals. Resulting in huge benefits on the one hand, and substantial damages to human health and the environment on the other hand. How can we balance a complex issue that often sparks toxic discussions? What are the scientific facts, what are popular myths? How do industry, regulatory agencies, academics and civil society organizations (NGOs) view the issue?



Let's explore! Your host is Prof. Thomas Backhaus, http://www.thomasbackhaus.eu

    Our Chemicalized World, episode 4: Microplastics in the environment II

    Our Chemicalized World, episode 4: Microplastics in the environment II

    Where do we stand, and what shall we do?







    In this follow-up to my interview with Martin Wagner in the previous episode, I discuss some recent reviews on microplastic pollution and environmental risks. I also provide some personal assessment on possible steps forward. First and foremost, at least that’s how I’d argue, need to systematically improve our consumption patterns, and then we must improve global plastic waste management. Implementing those two steps would get rid of microplastic pollution to a good extent already. It would also alleviate a range of other plastic-related environmental impacts.







    Starting from the other end might not be overly productive.







    * Here is the debate with Martin Wagner on “Microplastics in the environment: Much ado about nothing?” which is now published in the journal Global Challenges.* The report from the Center for International Environmental Law, CIEL, “Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet” can be found here.* The analysis “Toward an Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment of Microplastics: Comparison of Available Hazard and Exposure Data in Freshwaters” by Adam and her colleagues was published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and can be found here. * The discussion of the Saigon river is based on the paper “Macroplastic and microplastic contamination assessment of a tropical river (Saigon River, Vietnam) transversed by a developing megacity” by Lahens and colleagues, which you can find here.* Here is another review paper by Burns and Boxall “Microplastics in the aquatic environment: Evidence for or against adverse impacts and major knowledge gaps“, which was also published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. * The evidence review report on microplastic pollution from SAPEA, (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) can be found here.* The report from the European Group of Chief Scientific Advisors on microplastics can be found here.* The report from Eunomia on “Plastics in the Environment” can be found here. * The essay “Ocean plastic pollution: a convenient but distracting truth” by Stafford and Jones in the journal Marine Policy can be found here.* The rebuttal by Avery-Gomm and her colleagues “There is nothing convenient about plastic pollution. Rejoinder to Stafford and Jones “Viewpoint – Ocean plastic pollution: A convenient but distracting truth?” in the same journal a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="can be found here (opens in...

    • 25 min
    Our Chemicalized World, episode 3: Microplastics in the environment I

    Our Chemicalized World, episode 3: Microplastics in the environment I

    This is the first of a two-part episode on environmental pollution with microplastics. In this episode, I have a chat with Martin Wagner, an Associate Professor from the University of Trondheim in Norway who was visiting our University a couple of weeks back.







    We talk about whether there is an environmental impact from the widespread environmental occurrence with microplastic, how microplastic pollution relates to the wider issue of plastic pollution and possible policy actions.







    I’ll follow that up with some of my own thoughts and a reflection on recently published literature in the next episode of Our Chemicalized World.







    * Allan Burton’s discussion paper “Stressor Exposures Determine Risk: So, Why Do Fellow Scientists Continue To Focus on Superficial Microplastics Risk?” can be found here. OpenAccess.* Martin Wagner’s homepage is here.* And here is our debate on “Microplastics in the environment: Much ado about nothing?” OpenAccess.

    • 27 min
    Our Chemicalized World, episode 2: A chat about Glyphosate

    Our Chemicalized World, episode 2: A chat about Glyphosate

    In this episode I critique a recent video on glyphosate that was produced for the Austrian television. I find the clip heavily biased and explain why. Afterwards I talk a bit about some details in a new report that summarizes the toxicological profile of glyphosate.







    * The glyphosate video that I critique can be found here. Timo Küntzle, the video’s author has his homepage here (in English).* The glyphosate draft toxicological profile from the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry can be downloaded here.* Public comments to the toxicological profile can be submitted until the 8th of July here.* A recent meta-analysis of glyphosate’s carcinogenicity has been published (open access) by Zhang, A. L., Rana, I. and Shaffer, R. M. (2019) ‘Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence’, Mutation Research-Reviews in Mutation Research. doi: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2019.02.001. * The average intake of European consumers has been published (open access) in the paper ‘An assessment of dietary exposure to glyphosate using refined deterministic and probabilistic methods’, Food and Chemical Toxicology. 95, pp. 28–41. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2016.06.026.* EFSA’s calcuation of average glyphosate intake can be found in their glyphosate assessment report (2015) ‘Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance glyphosate’, EFSA Journal, 13(11), p. 4302. doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4302.









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    • 14 min
    Our Chemicalized World, episode 1: European pesticide authorization and chlorothalonil ban

    Our Chemicalized World, episode 1: European pesticide authorization and chlorothalonil ban

    I talk a bit about pesticides, what they are and how they are regulated and risk assessed in Europe. Hopefully not too dry and boring, but it’s essential background for discussing potential pesticide impacts on human health or the environment. And it’s just 7 minutes, so bear with me…







    In the second half of the podcast, I take take a somewhat closer look at one particular fungicide, chlorothalonil. The compound has just been banned a couple of days ago. I’ll explore why this decision was taken, and some of the reactions to this decision.







    * More details on the European system for the authorization of new active ingredients and the re-authorization of existing chemicals can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/pesticides/approval_active_substances_en * Details on the European system for the authorization of new pesticide products: https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/pesticides/authorisation_of_ppp_e * The underlying basis for all these approaches is the EU palnt protection product Regulation (or pesticide Regulation in short). The full text, as all EU legal texts, can be found at EUR-Lex https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32009R1107 * The EFSA risk assessment report on Chlorothalonil is here: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/5126 * The comment from the UK’s farmer’s association was taken from an article in “Farmers Guardian”, from 25th of March 2019: https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/european-standing-committee-votes-to-ban-fungicide-chlorothalonil-82354 There are actually quite a few more interesting bits and pieces and comments to be found in the article. Definitely worth a read.

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    • 15 min
    Our chemicalized world, episode 0: Intro

    Our chemicalized world, episode 0: Intro

    This is the introductory episode of “Our Chemicalized World”, a podcast about chemicals and their impacts on human health and the environment. So, this is about chemical hazards, exposures, about risks and safety. About using chemicals and about avoiding them. About testing chemicals for their toxic effects, about measuring and estimating their occurrence in the human body and the environment.







    I am starting this activity in order to explore an issue that I find important for all of us, given that we are using synthetic chemicals in every part of our daily life. The problem is that chemical production and use is truly a double-edged sword. So, let’s explore the popular myths, the inconvenient facts and the science behind it.







    As usual, feedback is welcome!

    • 6 min

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