Poisoned by Green Toxicology

Prof. Dr. Ad Ragas, Radboud University, Nijmegen and Open Universiteit, Heerlen.

The concept of Green Toxicology has been coined as a new strategy for sustainable chemical and material development. It is a multifaceted concept that strongly builds upon our improved capability to predict the fate and toxicity of chemicals. But how good are our predictive capabilities and is prediction a sufficient condition for change? I will critically analyze the strong and weak points in current predictive approaches based on a number of examples, e.g. taken from the IMI iPiE project; an international research project on pharmaceuticals in the environment. I will argue that fate and exposure can be fairly well predicted, but many challenges remain before we can equally well predict toxicity. I will furthermore argue that the paradigm change claimed by Green Toxicology does not only require good predictive approaches, but also societal changes, e.g. in the area of corporate responsibility.

Ad Ragas (1964) studied biology and obtained his PhD at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He currently holds a position as a full professor in Environmental Natural Sciences at the Open University in Heerlen (The Netherlands) and as an associate professor at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. His main expertise is the modelling of human and ecological risks of chemicals, covering emissions of chemicals, their fate in the environment, toxicokinetic processes and their adverse effects in humans, farm animals and species of ecological interest. Within this field, his focus is on quantifying and assessing uncertainty of model predictions. He actively participates in several large research projects on pharmaceuticals and contaminants of emerging concern, i.e. i-PiE, MEDUWA and SUSPECt. He chairs the Dutch scientific advisory committee on quality standards for air and water, and the Dutch Interuniversity Committee on Environmental Sciences. He currently is a member of the working group on mixture toxicity of the European Food & Safety Authority (EFSA).