Regulating emerging pollutants: Designing law amidst constant scientific knowledge development

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Katerina Mitkidis


Aarhus University


DKK 2,831,158




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


The project tackles the issue of regulating emerging pollutants. We will focus on the regulation of pollution caused by pharmaceuticals and personal care products amidst constant and rapid scientific knowledge development. The project will inform the scientific community, policy makers and practitioners on design and implementation of new laws under the conditions of uncertainty and constant scientific knowledge development. We will specifically work within EU law and international law to report how emerging pollutants have been addressed in law so far and optimally propose recommendation for future regulation.


On daily basis, we use pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), such as prescription medicines, fragrances and cosmetics, that enter the soil, groundwater and sediment. As other chemicals, they may damage fauna, flora and human health. While the scientific knowledge around their negative impacts crystalizes, it is nowhere close to certainty. The scientific determination of the possible risks of emerging pollutants (including PPCPs) to ecosystems can be very problematic. It takes long time to generate and collect solid evidence that would justify new regulation. When scientific uncertainty about detrimental consequences is high, while the potential risk is significant, it is important to find an appropriate legal instrument that would help to diminish the destructive effects.


On the example of PPCPs, we will investigate the existing international and EU laws and the possibility to amend those or adopt new ones to achieve precautionary, resilient, adaptive and flexible regulation.

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