The European chemical industry generates over thousand billions of euros per year, and is the most important sector worldwide, with 1.14 million of direct employments and 3 additional millions of indirect employments. The chemical industry is a key contributor to the sustainable development of our society, ideally equipped to provide solutions and the technological backbone to exciting, high-tech developments that shape our lifestyle and our future. The European chemical industry’s vocation is to be a responsible industry, holding itself accountable to society and committed to addressing its concerns actively and transparently, ensuring that chemical products manufactured and developed in Europe, properly used, are as safe as possible, both from an environment and a health perspective. National governments and the EU have strict regulations on consumer and environmental protection, occupational health, chemical processes and transport and the management of chemical substances. As a result, the toxicosphere emerges as a realm where thousands of chemical pollutants interact with the living organisms and therefore regulations to protect the environment are required.
The European Environment and Health Strategy (EC, 2003)¡ and the UN Program advocate for the integration of health and ecosystem protection. Healthy ecosystems provide a variety of crucial services related to food supply, provision of raw materials and natural resources, habitat, climate regulation, erosion and flood protection, pollutants detoxification, pollination, etc., which can be seen as the “bridge” between nature conservation and human wellbeing. As many human activities disrupt, impair or reengineer ecosystems, society is becoming aware of the vital importance of nature conservation if we are to maintain and improve our quality of life, wellbeing and health (WHO’s “One Health” approach). In consequence, our society is currently demanding models of sustainable development that take into account the conservation of natural resources and the maintenance of vital ecosystem services and processes, which is reflected in new compulsory legislation pursuing ecosystem protection. The ecosystem health paradigm is aimed to provide the scientific basis required for covering the goals of the new environmental policies in Europe.