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New environmental contaminants

New chemicals are constantly being introduced to the market – and then they gradually disperse in the environment. Many of these compounds have unknown properties, and there is insufficient knowledge about their effects on humans and the environment. NILU cooperates closely with the government and other research communities to identify new problem areas and to regulate the use of harmful chemicals.

NILU scientists work continuously to expand knowledge about the sources, occurrence, and environmental fate of new contaminants, along with their impact on health and the environment. Developing new analytical methods is central to the process of detecting and measuring new environmental contaminants.

At NILU, we use a range of mass spectroscopic methods to analyse classical and new environmental pollutants, using “suspect screening” and non-target screening methods to detect unknown or hitherto ignored substances. In addition, we use various modelling tools to understand and predict the environmental fate of these compounds.

New chemicals are introduced to provide us with “smarter” and better products. But even if the intentions are good, the substances developed today may be the environmental contaminants of the future. A few of these substances may also pose a threat to humans and the environment. If we are to achieve the vision of a poison-free future, we need to identify the substances that we have not yet become aware of, but that may constitute a risk.