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An Advanced Methodological Framework for the Identification of Priority Pollutants and Priority Mixtures of Pollutants in European Freshwaters

Abstract : We present a proposal for an advanced methodological framework for identifying priority pollutants and priority mixtures of pollutants in European freshwaters. The proposal was developed by the EU project SOLUTIONS. It aims to tackle major shortcomings of current prioritisation procedures under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD): (i) For most aquatic pollutants the high data demands for a conclusive risk assessment cannot be met. Significant risks from so-called emerging pollutants may remain undetected. The WFD does not include an effective mechanism to close such knowledge gaps. The introduction of a watch-list mechanism for up to 10 substances provided a minor improvement but no fundamental change to this situation. (ii) Individual pollutants are assessed as if they would occur in isolation, largely ignoring the fact that they are part of complex multi-constituent mixtures. Environmental quality standards that have been established for single priority pollutants may not be sufficiently protective against mixture effects. Regulatory approaches for effectively tackling the problem are missing. The advanced framework integrates all available lines of evidence (LOE) on significant risks. This includes evidence from (i) ecological monitoring (field observations on so-called biological quality elements), (ii) effect-based monitoring (in vitro or in vivo testing in the lab or onsite), (iii) chemical monitoring in combination with so-called component-based mixture risk assessment approaches, (iv) integrated modelling of co-exposure and resulting mixture risks. Where one or more lines of evidence identify groups of pollutants presenting a significant risk, these should be subject to prioritisation for risk reduction measures. Where appropriate, such groups may be reduced to few mixture components or even one single component which can be demonstrated to explain most of the overall risk, so-called drivers of mixture risks. Wherever conclusive evidence on significant risks and needs for risk reduction cannot be reached because all possible LOEs are somewhere blocked by significant data or knowledge gaps, mixture components of potential concern are not left unnoticed but they are prioritised for further research and testing. Some elements of the advanced methodological framework may be readily applicable under the existing WFD. Full implementation, however, requires changes in the legal text, as detailed in Brack et al. 2017 (Sci Total Environ 576:720-737).
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Submitted on : Friday, August 3, 2018 - 10:13:57 AM
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Michael Faust, Rolf Altenburger, Thomas Backhaus, Werner Brack, Valeria Dulio, et al.. An Advanced Methodological Framework for the Identification of Priority Pollutants and Priority Mixtures of Pollutants in European Freshwaters. 28. SETAC Europe annual meeting, May 2018, Rome, Italy. ⟨ineris-01853351⟩

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