Among the existential threats that require lifestyle and policy changes for humans to live within the boundaries of planetary sustainability, one issue remains both under-studied and under-regulated: our growing use of synthetic chemicals that accumulate in our bodies, leading to a range of serious health problems. There is a grim, emerging consensus that the problem is beyond our control, with the unknown cumulative effects of exposures rendering the establishing of causal relationships between exposures and health effects impossible.
This multi-sited study working across scales (individual, community, city, nation) and disciplines (anthropology of the body, creative cartography, urban political ecology, experimental governance) is set in two Western European and two Southeast Asian cities that have adopted green policies but differ starkly in their regulatory environments. By focusing on what ordinary people and city planners do to avoid or reduce chemical exposures and the concerns that inform their practices, we gain insight into the structural constraints that enable and/or constrain their ability to protect themselves—insights that will inform new harm reduction strategies that present pathways to transformative change. The project has four key objectives that correspond to its subprojects:
1.Study through multi-modal ethnography how people living and working in cities sense, know, and act upon chemical exposures in their everyday lives.
2.Visualize through multi-layered cartography the accumulation of toxic chemicals in human bodies and how political, economic, social, and regulatory forces shape uneven exposure.
3.Co-create novel harm reduction tools and strategies based on in-depth learning from existing efforts to mitigate chemical toxicities.
4.Develop novel ecological approaches for studying how people experience, understand and act on potentially toxic chemical exposures and how political, economic, social, and regulatory forces constrain/enable action.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme