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Fate and risk of contaminants of emerging concern

- a research area within the section MITO (Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology)

Fate and risk of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs)

Contaminants of emerging concern are compounds which we know little about, but where there is a reason for concern that they may represent a risk. This can be novel compounds (e.g. pharmaceuticals, personal care ingredients or flame retardants), but can also be legacy compounds in a novel environmental setting (e.g. unknown dissipation products of known contaminants). Their emissions, the exposure of humans and environments to these compounds, their effects as well as the associated risks are one of the research activities of MITO. Special attention is paid to the transport of less-studied compounds to the Arctic and their accumulation in the Arctic environment, for example in food chains. Besides being an important research area, knowledge of long-range transport, persistence and bioaccumulation is relevant for risk assessments and eventually regulations.

An assessment of the risk that these compounds represent, often requires specific toxicological assessment endpoints related to the compound and its properties. The section’s entry point to this work is via computer models to determine the most relevant endpoints.


Microplastic particles are formed from plastic litter, which is the most abundant pollutant in the oceans. In addition to containing harmful plastic additives, microplastics have a high ratio of surface area to volume, and thus a large potential to accumulate organic contaminants. The research in the section focuses on plastic-contaminant interactions, i.e. the sorption affinity of organic contaminants to microplastics as well as the potential release of plastics additives to the environment.

Contact persons

Pia Lassen

Senior Researcher - Head of section