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About FRAM

The FRAM Centre for Future Chemical Risk Assessment and Management Strategies is a multi-disciplinary academic centre focusing on chemical mixtures. The centre was established from 1st of April 2016 at the University of Gothenburg to enable a formalized collaboration among researchers in the area of chemical risk assessment and management in Gothenburg. FRAM works across academic disciplines and in close collaboration with stakeholders from chemical regulation, chemical industry and civil society. 

FRAM is a part of the University of Gothenburg Centres for Global Societal Challenges (UGOT Challenges). The University of Gothenburg funds FRAM with a budget of ca 50 MSEK over the period 2016-2022.

Focusing on chemical mixtures in rivers, lakes and coastal areas

Chemicals are crucial for human society as they facilitate the provision of healthcare, food production, various consumer products and general societal infrastructure. Chemical industry also employs more than 3 million people in 83 000 companies in Europe alone. But the massive use of chemicals is not only a story about societal benefits. Chemical production and use also has substantial negative impacts on human health, ecosystems and the services they provide.

The failure to take into account the combined effects of several toxic substances on ecosystems and human health is a major shortcoming of modern chemical regulations such as REACH. These regulations rest on the key assumption that a managed chemical is the only toxicant present in an otherwise pristine ecosystem – ignoring that typically dozens or even hundreds of chemicals co-occur at the same time.

Chemical mixtures are usually far more toxic than their ingredients, therefore is not sufficient to ensure that the chemical use and management of an individual company, authority or consumer is on an acceptable level – it is their joint impact that matters for ensuring sustainable development.

FRAM’s work will focus on the impact of chemical pollution on those ecosystem services that are provided by rivers, lakes and coastal areas and the policy instruments needed for mitigating such impacts. This is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving a toxic-free environment, as it is the long-standing aim of Swedish environmental policy as well as the latest Environmental Action Plan of the European Commission. FRAM’s conceptual work and policy instruments are, however, also effective beyond its core area, e.g. for also assessing direct pollution impacts on human health.

The FRAM Centre aims to answer three major questions

  • What levels of pollution are acceptable from an ecosystem perspective and when are ecosystem services adversely affected?
  • Which management tools for addressing chemical use and disposal can be used to reduce pollution effectively?
  • How can these management tools be implemented in practice?

Multi-disciplinary academic centre

Our vision is that the University of Gothenburg will take a lighthouse position in the area of assessing, managing and minimizing environmental pollution with chemicals and especially “chemical cocktails” by developing a new paradigm of chemical risk assessment and management, in order to cut the path to a non-toxic environment.

Thomas Backhaus, Professor in Ecotoxicology at the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences (BioEnv) is the Director of the centre supported by a steering committee with other representatives from Faculty of Sciences (BioEnv, Marine Sciences, Mathematical Sciences), School of business, Economics and Law, Centre for Environment and Sustainability (GMV) and Chalmers University of Technology.

Page Manager: Ida W. Brattström|Last update: 12/15/2016
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