Legacies of Toxic Waste

Stylised blue-green photos of a monk, a pixellated dog, a close-up spore, a person on a hill, a toy robot and a banana wrapped in chains

Humans have evolved to live within a complex and changing chemical environment, but the rate of synthesis of new chemical entities and novel materials has increased dramatically over the last century, presenting new and often unforeseen challenges to the environment and public health.

In this series of three lectures, we will explore two topics of increasing public concern: microplastics and the so call forever chemicals (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), before reflecting on the lessons learned from the regulation of lead emissions. The removal of lead from petrol is a major public health success story, but lead still persists within our environment and their remain impacts on human health.

These lectures are about reviewing what we know, fact checking what appears in a media, fond of the next major scare story and thinking wholistically about how we ensure environmental protection and health are considered in the full life cycle of chemical manufacturer, use and disposal.