Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 3 - SOLUTIONS (Solutions for present and future emerging pollutants in land and water resources management)

Project Context and Objectives:
SOLUTIONS comprises an international team of scientists 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. In the third project phase monitoring and modelling tools were advanced, integrated and rigorously evaluated and the final monitoring toolbox and the model train have been compiled. The monitoring toolbox including effect-based and chemical monitoring as well as ecological tools has been demonstrated and refined in the large basins of Danube and Rhine as well as relevant Mediterranean basins as case studies and results have been published. The model train was applied to simulate exposure in all SOLUTIONS case studies (River Rhine and Danube and several Spanish rivers). The results were validated with monitoring data. The application for whole Europe and more than 5000 substances is well under way. The final structures of databases and software tools to support decisions in water quality assessment and management (RiBaTox) have been implemented, appreciated by stakeholders and extensively filled with data. The data base on abatement efficiency has been finalized and integrated in RiBaTox. Societal scenarios have been used to derive future trends in pollution. Management recommendations have been given to address these challenges.
Significant progress in agreement with the time plans given in the DOW for the full set of work packages 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 derived in the first project phase and rigorously tested in the second one was used as a powerful basis for the finalization and integration of SOLUTIONS products for monitoring, modelling, assessment and water management. Boundaries and chemical footprints have been demonstrated to be a powerful tool to relate chemical and water policies. A clear link between chemical stress of mixtures and ecological status could be developed. Tool development is finalized and effect-based monitoring tools as well as trigger values have been suggested in scientific publications and are discussed in WFD-CIS working group on chemicals. The diagnostic power of improved chemical, bioanalytical and ecological tools to assess water quality has been demonstrated for example to evaluate the upgrade of WWTPs in Switzerland. In order to support monitoring and prioritization of chemicals and mixtures thereof, the comprehensive model train involving emission-, transport & fate- and risk models has been completed and evaluated in all case studies. There are clear implications of the new approaches for risk assessment. Our studies show that pelagic communities are not protected against toxicity of mixtures of monitored chemicals and that many toxicity drivers are not WFD priority substances and poorly regulated. For objective 4, the data portal IDPS has been developed and the connected databases are currently filled with data while the decision-support tool RiBaTox was advanced towards a powerful and coherent decision tree guiding towards factsheets giving guidance how to use SOLUTIONS products in practice.
Thus, major anticipated products of the SOLUTIONS efforts are close to finalization including the required guidance documents. All products have been extensively evaluated with thoroughly selected chemicals, well-designed mixtures, complex contamination at field sites and extensive data for use and emission of produced chemicals in Europe has been performed. Extensive applications in case studies demonstrate that this next generation of tools has the potential to enhance protection and management of water resources on a new level.
Project Results:
Following objective 1, the comprehensive conceptual framework for compound prioritization and abatement has been published. Gearing SOLUTIONS research and translated into a user-friendly decision support system (RiBaTox) it is intended to support the sustainable use of chemicals, the identification of pollutants of concern for cost-efficient management, the selection of abatement options and the development of legal and policy instruments. The concept of boundaries and chemical footprints has been applied successfully in collaboration with the MARS project highlighting the link between chemical stress and the ecological status. After finalizing the series of workshops on future scenarios within the last period, trend indications have been developed for individual and groups of substances and used for a quantitative description of pollution scenarios and the suggestion of mitigation options.
Regarding objective 2, progress has been made by in-depth evaluation of a large set of in vivo and in vitro effect-based monitoring tools for their ability to detect chemicals with different modes of action in complex mixtures in an inter-laboratory study. Based on the results, a test battery has been suggested compiling apical tests with organisms representing Biological Quality Elements as defined in WFD together with specific in vitro assays to address long-term effects on reproduction and fitness. On-site enrichment of water samples using LVSPE has been evaluated for recovery of chemicals and effects and is suggested as a sampling technology that can be used for long-term time integrated as well as event-based sampling. The application of pollution-induced community tolerance (PICT) of biofilms in the Rhine case study demonstrated the impact of WWTP effluents on river water communities and the significant reduction of this impact by the implementation of quaternary treatment. The analytical and EDA tools developed in SOLUTIONS have shown their potential in different case and field studies identifying so far unknown environmental pollutants with locally strong impact such as the anti-androgenic fluorescence dye coumarin 47. The model train is fully operational and has been applied for a set of 1800 chemicals for whole Europe. Simulations in the case study river basins allowed for a rigorous evaluation of the ability of the model train to reproduce measured concentrations. The model train provides an excellent tool to discriminate chemicals with emissions that might require regulation from those that very probably do not pose a risk to environment and human health.
Following objective 3, the SOLUTIONS workflow on human and ecological mixture risk assessment has been applied on the Danube case study using the data from the JDS3 campaign. The analysis showed that pelagic communities are not protected against direct toxicity from mixtures of monitored chemicals. Many of the drivers of risk are not WFD priority substances and poorly regulated. Provisional drinking water guideline values have been derived for 1097 contaminants measured in drinking, ground- and surface water in the River Rhine catchment. A common toolbox for abatement assessment has been provided, evaluated and demonstrated in the Rhine basin including sampling, enrichment, analysis, chemical and toxicological assessment. Emission hot spots with the largest impact on downstream functions have been identified as input to a smart placement of abatement interventions based on simulations for 1795 chemicals. For Iberian rivers concentrations of chemicals measured in the SCARCE project have been simulated with the SOLUTIONS model train finding often an agreement between simulated and measured concentrations within one order of magnitude.
Following objective 4, the final systematic decision tree and fact sheets of RiBaTox have been provided and discussed with stakeholders. A review of technical, non-technical abatement options and an overview of removal efficiencies of various drinking and waste water treatment technologies have been published. A database with information on chemical substances included in different regulatory frameworks has been uploaded.
Potential Impact:
The project is developing a solutions-oriented approach to comprehensively 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 and implications are described in the following.
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. The GDs will be organized as a decision tree for use of chemical, bioanalytical and ecological tools in RBSP identification, impact assessment and establishment of cause-effect relationships.
3) Toxicant knowledge base
The SOLUTIONS database architecture integrates structure-based chemical information with monitoring data, toxicity information, emission and use information and system information on hydrology, climate and socio-economic parameters. The final product will be an Integrated Data Portal (IDPS) for discovering and accessing information on priority and emerging pollutants in land and water resources management. The direct link to the European Integrated Platform for Chemical Monitoring Data (IPCheM) provided by the European Commission will allow the use of IDPS far beyond the project duration of SOLUTIONS.
4) Identification of new substances
SOLUTIONS provides an integrated set of approaches 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 pollutant lists. A tentative 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 possible 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. A mock-up version of RiBaTox has been delivered and discussed with stakeholders.
6) Abatement options
SOLUTIONS provides knowledge enabling the design of technical and non-technical 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 and global 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 is analyzing these regulations in collaboration with stakeholders and will provide suggestions for improvement of coherence and improved cross-compliance between WFD and other policies.
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