Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Towards Sustainable Environmental Quality: Priority Research Questions for North America



Anne Fairbrother, Derek Muir, Keith Solomon, Gerald Ankley, Murray Rudd, Alistair Boxall, William Adams, Jennifer Apell, Bonnie Blalock, Sarah Bowman, Linda Campbell, George Cobb, Kristin Connors, David Dreier, Marlene Evans, Carol Henry, Robert Hoke, Magali Houde, Stephen Klaine, Rebecca Klaper, Sigrun Kullik, Roman Lanno, Charles Meyer, Elias Oziolor, Mary Ann Ottinger, Elijah J. Petersen, Helen Poynton, Pamela Rice, Gabriela Rodriguez-Fuentes, Alan Samel, Joseph Shaw, Jeffrey Steevens, Tim Verslycke, Scott Weir, Peter Wilson, Bryan Brooks


Anticipating, identifying and prioritizing strategic needs represent essential activities by research organizations. When these pursuits engage globally important environment and health goals, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, decided benefits emerge. Identifying which specific research is needed to address grand challenges can be facilitated through horizon scanning efforts. Here we report 40 priority research questions following engagement of scientists and engineers in North America. These timely questions identify the importance of stimulating innovation and developing new methods, tools and concepts in environmental chemistry and toxicology to improve assessment and management of chemical contaminants and diverse stressors. Grand challenges to achieving sustainable management of environment and health are becoming increasingly complex and structured by global megatrends and climate change, which collectively challenge existing programs aimed at achieving sustainable environmental quality. Systems approaches among disciplines and across temporal and spatial scales of biological organization will be required. Similarly, coordinated research activities among organizations within and among countries is necessary to address the priority research needs reported here. Acquiring answers to these 40 research questions will not be trivial, but doing so promises to advance sustainable environmental quality for ecosystems and public health in the 21st Century.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Created July 30, 2019, Updated September 10, 2019