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SOLUTIONS Report Summary

Project ID: 603437
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Germany

Periodic Report Summary 2 - SOLUTIONS (Solutions for present and future emerging pollutants in land and water resources management)

Project Context and Objectives:
Water is a vital resource for natural ecosystems and human life, and therefore, as stated by the EU Water Framework Directive, a “heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such”. It has been shown that micro-pollutants are one of the factors preventing good water quality in Europe and that pollution goes far beyond present selections of Priority and River Basin Specific Pollutants with chemicals of emerging concern and mixtures thereof playing an important role for risks. Awareness is also increasing that chemical target monitoring measuring a small set of chemicals agreed upon in the EU may only partly address the highly complex and dynamic chemical pollution, risks and effects in European water resources. Innovative ideas, concepts, models and monitoring tools are required to safeguard healthy aquatic ecosystems and valuable water resources for human consumption in a solution-oriented and cost-efficient way.
To achieve this overall goal, SOLUTIONS comprises an international team of scientists and stakeholders with expertise on chemicals in the water cycle sharing the common vision that science can provide solutions for present and future emerging pollutants in land and water resources management. After establishing the basic principles, models and tools required for a successful invention of innovative and integrated monitoring, modeling and abatement of micro-pollutants and extensive sampling, and extensive sampling, analysis and data collection in the large case study basins of Danube and Rhine and several Mediterranean rivers, in the second project phase monitoring and modelling tools had to be advanced, integrated and rigorously evaluated towards the development of the final products of the project.
Significant progress has been achieved for all of the four major objectives including 1) the development of a conceptual framework for the prioritization and abatement of toxicants and mixtures thereof with respect to ecosystems and human health, 2) the delivery of efficient tools and models for toxicant identification, assessment and prioritization, 3) the assessment of implications for risk assessment of emerging pollutants in cases studies and water and chemical policies, and 4) the provision of solutions for the prioritization, assessment and management of emerging pollutants.
The conceptual framework turned out as a powerful basis for the development of the final products designed to solve major challenges in water management. The framework provides a solutions-oriented approach to assess and prioritize mixtures of chemicals, environmental observations, abatement options and societal developments. Tool development strongly progressed towards a more holistic mixture- and effect-based approach involving the diagnostic power of improved chemical, bioanalytical and ecological tools to assess water quality and to evaluate abatement measures. In order to support monitoring and prioritization, a comprehensive model train involving emission-, transport & fate- and risk models has been further advanced and evaluated for a Europe-wide risk modelling of potentially hazardous compound mixtures. Implications of the new approaches for risk assessment have been intensively investigated in all three case studies by the effect-based quantification of impacts of wastewater effluents on water resources and by the identification of major drivers of risk at different scales. Objective 4 required the development of major products including first prototypes of the data portal IDPS and toxicant knowledge database with direct link to the European Integrated Platform for Chemical Monitoring Data (IPCheM), a draft version of the decision-support tool RiBaTox including a decision tree and a first compilation of factsheets and their evaluation by stakeholders, and recommendations of management options in terms of abatement technology reflection and policy advise on coherent future chemicals regulation beyond the WFD.

Project Results:
Objective 1: The conceptual framework gears SOLUTIONS research towards its products. A first approach defines safe boundary conditions for chemical footprints using the novel concept of Ecosystem Vulnerability Distributions. A series of workshops on future scenarios of environmental, societal and technological development has been finalized and carefully evaluated. Trend indications were derived for the impact of societal development on future pollutants and will be used for modeling future chemical burden.
Objective 2: Progress has been made in the establishment and evaluation of 52 in vivo and in vitro assays as effect-based monitoring tools. The selection of chemicals and mixtures to evaluate these assays is based on compounds found in the environment and their modes of action anchoring in adverse outcome pathways (AOPs). The assays were tested for their robustness to complex mixtures and their power to discriminate different levels of contamination. Trait-based approaches were demonstrated to detect even small impacts of contaminants on macroinvertebrate communities. A large array of analytical, EDA and sampling tools has been developed to detect and identify diverse toxicants at very low concentrations. Major elements of the model train are fully operational and applied Europe-wide based on river basin geometry and hydrology data and increased understanding how substance and catchment properties and emission patterns interact to create a certain level of risk. Estimated human and ecosystem risks follow a common tiered work flow scheme for mixtures based on the models dose/concentration addition and independent action. Species sensitivity distributions and individual-based models have been implemented for ecological risk assessment and used for large scale simulations in the Danube River. Ecosystem vulnerability distributions have been performed together with the EU-project MARS.
Objective 3: The analysis of water and biota extracts and JDS3 data evaluation have been finalized including hot spots identification. One of these hot spots, the city of Novi Sad, has been investigated using in vitro bioassays and chemical analysis. Endocrine disruption could be observed downstream of the effluent discharge and mainly explained by natural hormones emitted with untreated wastewater. Fish caging experiments have been performed to confirm the impact of contamination in vivo. In the Rhine basin site assessment has been performed upstream/downstream of WWTPs. The acute toxic pressure was mainly driven by pesticides. Effects could be explained only to a minor degree with detected chemicals except for photosystem II inhibition. River Rhine water was investigated with EDA to identify mutagens potentially impacting on drinking water production. Synergistic effects between aromatic amines from industrial production with natural plant alkaloids have been demonstrated to contribute to this effect. For Iberian rivers land use, physical and chemical stressors were investigated for individual and joint effects on biological communities. Invertebrates and diatom communities turned out to be the best descriptors for the impact of stressors demonstrated by multivariate statistics.
Objective 4: A new version of RiBaTox including a decision tree and a set of factsheets was developed and discussed with the stakeholders. A prototype of the Integrated Data Portal for SOLUTIONS (IDPS) and an automated data exchange protocol for internal modelling applications have been finalized. Abatement options including removal efficiencies of various water treatment technologies have been compiled in database. Potentials for synergies between policy frameworks have been evaluated assessing which parts of the chemical life-cycle are covered by regulatory frameworks. This revealed a need for revision of some of them to achieve coverage of both human health and environment and to include new substances. Extensive recommendations for WFD revision have been given.

Potential Impact:
The project is developing a solutions-oriented approach to address emerging pollutants in water resources responding to requirements of major stakeholders including WFD-CIS groups, international water commissions, European and national agencies as well as drinking water industry. Expected results of SOLUTIONS and their potential impact are:
1) Toolbox
SOLUTIONS is developing a comprehensive set of effect-based and analytical tools together with a model train for prediction of emissions, fate, transport and expected risks to address the challenges of chemical risk assessment in a complex contaminated environment. SOLUTIONS tools will support mixture impact assessment and driver identification with a new dimension of chemical screening and effect-based tools with demonstrated suitability for enriched environmental mixtures. A coherent model train for European scale modelling validated in case studies will provide stakeholders with a reality-checked set of models that help to identify chemicals that might need regulation even before they are detectable in the environment. Toolbox and model train will be instrumental for guideline development by WFD-CIS groups and support European efforts to achieving sustainable water systems in Europe.
2) Guidance documents
Toolbox and model train will come with a comprehensive set of guidance documents (GDs) easily accessible via the user-friendly computer tool RiBaTox driven by stakeholder questions. The guidance documents will strongly support stakeholders in setting up solutions-oriented monitoring and assessment and toxicant prioritization on a European, river basin and regional scale.
3) Toxicant knowledge base
The SOLUTIONS database architecture integrates chemical information with monitoring data, toxicity, emission and use information and hydrological, climate and socioeconomic parameters. The final product will be an Integrated Data Portal (IDPS) for discovering and accessing information on priority and emerging pollutants in water resources management. The link to the European Integrated Platform for Chemical Monitoring Data (IPCheM) by the European Commission will allow the use of IDPS beyond the project duration of SOLUTIONS.
4) Identification of new substances
SOLUTIONS provides an integrated approach to identify substances of concern on different scales. Applying these tools will provide candidate River Basin Specific Pollutants (RBSPs) and suggestions for an evidence-based revision of WFD priority pollutants. A list of candidate RBSPs for the River Danube based on JDS 3 has been provided and will be revised over the duration of the project. Scenarios and modelling will identify future compounds of concern in order to support early action of regulators, industry and consumers.
5) RiBaTox
RiBaTox is based on the SOLUTIONS conceptual framework with the four entry points chemicals, environmental observations, abatement options and societal development. The conceptual framework has been developed in dialogue with the SOLUTIONS Stakeholder Board. Access is driven by stakeholder questions and will guide the user to tools, guidance documents and models that help to find solutions for stakeholder problems.
6) Abatement options
SOLUTIONS enables the design of abatement to support a good ecological status of surface waters and safe water systems for the citizens. Pilot studies demonstrate how to prioritize locations for WWTP upgrade in order to achieve maximum abatement with limited resources with respect to drinking water safety and the protection of valuable ecosystems. Novel concepts on chemical footprints and regional boundaries promote the identification of abatement options.
7) Policy advise
A multitude of regulations, directives and international agreements on different types of chemicals and for different purposes are in force and have been compiled by SOLUTIONS in a database. SOLUTIONS provides suggestions for improvement of WFD and cross-compliance with other policies.

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Annette Schmidt, (EU Liaison Officer)
Tel.: +49 3412351663
Record Number: 197191 / Last updated on: 2017-04-13
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