Open and easy access to visualization of chemical monitoring data in the environment - ChemTHEATRE enhances secondary use of environmental information

ChemTHEATRE was launched in 2016 in order to provide easy access to monitoring data of chemicals in the environment. Data from different sources are stored in a well-organized format. ChemTHEATRE providing useful information more systematically than ever before.

Outline of ChemTHEATRE : Monitoring data from different sources are registered in ChemTHEATRE with their metadata, e.g. how the chemicals were measured, in what type of environmental media, and when and where the samples were collected. The data can be used for risk assessment and management of chemicals. ChemTHEATRE provides such data to external databases for multipurpose usages. ChemTHEATRE is also registered in the NBDC database catalogue and FAIRsharing.

A huge number of monitoring data on chemicals in various environmental and biological specimens has been reported in scientific journals. However, a comprehensive, public repository for storing such a valuable data set of chemicals does not exist. Researchers are forced to spend a great deal of time and expense in collecting and utilizing published data for modelling environmental behavior and fate of and performing the risk assessment for chemicals of interest. Therefore, in 2016 we launched ChemTHEATRE (Chemicals in the THEATRE: Tractable and Heuristic E-Archive for Traceability and Responsible-care Engagement), a platform for registering and visualizing the monitoring data of environmental contaminants. To date, the monitoring data of more than 1,300 chemicals described in 104 projects have been registered on the platform. Users can find e-archived chemical concentration data for environmental and biological specimens, each with associated metadata such as sampling date and location, species, and biometrics, and download them in text files.

Bridging ChemTHEATRE to other databases and/or tools is one of the most effective ways for easy access for secondary data use. For example, the AIST-MeRAM (Multi-purpose Ecological Risk Assessment and Management Tool) storing chemical property and/or hazard/toxicity information provides us with a highly accurate and transparent assessment of the ecological risk of chemicals. AIST-MeRAM can output the results of exposure and risk assessments very easily and quickly just by importing the text file containing monitoring data exported from ChemTHEATRE.

Much effort is currently being devoted to visualizing e-archived data sets, and enhancing available data-model interfaces to simulate the global dynamics of chemical pollution, with the Finely-Advanced Transboundary Environmental model (FATE), and to promote a series of integrated exposure and effects analyses. Alternatively, users can use GIS software, e.g. QGIS, to visualize the spatial and temporal trends of subjected chemicals.

It is thus expected that ChemTHEATRE will not only be a dedicated follow-up and forecasting tool of international regulations on pollution control in the light of traceability and responsible-care engagement of chemicals, but also a “communication theatre” where a variety of stakeholders can improve their risk literacies and develop new projects through open data access.

ChemTHEATRE is also registered in the NBDC database catalogue and FAIRsharing as a data repository prior to publishing monitoring data in a research journal. Our activities were introduced in the Asahi Shinbun newspaper (June 18th, 2020).

Ways to use ChemTHEATRE : Users can search the data by sample and/or chemical information, and export the query results in text format. The exported data can be used for various objectives, such as visualization in a map, simulation of fate and behavior, and risk assessment.

Aims and goals of ChemTHEATRE : To achieve our goals for ChemTHEATRE we are expanding our activities.

Published: 29 Oct 2020


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Funding information:

Long-Range Research Initiative (LRI), Japan Chemical Industry Association
Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (JPMEERF18S20304), Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency of Japan
Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (JPMEERF20205003), Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency of Japan