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Toward sustainable environmental quality: Priority research questions for North America

July 30, 2019

Anticipating, identifying, and prioritizing strategic needs represent essential activities by research organizations. Decided benefits emerge when these pursuits engage globally important environment and health goals, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. To this end, horizon scanning efforts can facilitate identification of specific research needs to address grand challenges. We report and discuss 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 other diverse environmental stressors. Grand challenges to achieving sustainable management of the environment are becoming increasingly complex and structured by global megatrends, which collectively challenge existing sustainable environmental quality efforts. Transdisciplinary, systems‐based approaches will be required to define and avoid adverse biological effects across temporal and spatial gradients. Similarly, coordinated research activities among organizations within and among countries are 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 in the 21st century. 

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