Published 2019-07-10

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SEK 70 million for research programme on reduced exposure to hazardous substances

As decided by Mistra’s Board, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute is to be responsible for a research programme on chemicals.

Last autumn, Mistra published a call for proposals entitled Design for reduced exposure to hazardous substances, based on a background paper on the same theme written for Mistra by an expert group. On 12 June, Mistra’s Board decided to award SEK 70 million to the consortium submitting the SafeChem programme proposal. This group consists of researchers from IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Stockholm University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Technical University of Denmark (DTU, in Copenhagen) and Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), along with 12 companies and organisations.

The proposal describes a vision to enable and promote expansion of a safe, sustainable and green chemical industry in Sweden, and minimise exposure of people and the environment to hazardous substances. This is much in line with the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s vision of a non-toxic everyday environment.

The research will focus on chemicals in everyday products and materials and in their manufacturing processes. A holistic approach is key to how the researchers will look at design processes for various products and the chemicals composing them. The programme will be interdisciplinary, using experience from the pharmaceutical industry and elsewhere for risk characterisation of new chemicals. Work will also be done on new catalytic systems for synthesis, production and recycling. Lifecycle management tools and knowledge transfer from experts to decision makers and the public are crucial to the programme’s success.

The programme has been awarded funding of SEK 70 million and is to last for four years. In line with Mistra’s long-term perspective, there is also scope for a four-year extension.

‘Managing and limiting the risks of exposure to hazardous chemicals are important for our well-being and environment,’ says Christopher Folkeson Welch, Programmes Director at Mistra.