The issue of micropollutants has been of growing interest in recent years, particularly because of the huge health, social, environmental and economic aspects involved. The regulatory framework has recently been expanded and is based at European level on the following regulations:
- the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC which establishes rules to halt the deterioration of the status of water bodies in the European Union.
- the Priority Substances Directive 2013/39/EC which defines a list of 45 micropollutants that require special attention in water.
- the REACH regulation which defines restrictions on the marketing and/or use of dangerous substances, some of which are sources of micropollutants
At the national level, this regulation is reinforced by the « national micropollutant plan » whose timetable, established until 2021, aims 1) to reduce the emission of micropollutants in aquatic ecosystems on relevant bases, 2) to consolidate knowledge in order to adapt the fight against water pollution and preserve biodiversity, and 3) to draw up a list of molecules on which to act.
In order to meet these objectives, current solutions are based, among other things, on estimating the molecules present in aquatic ecosystems on the basis of emission factors and determining their toxicity on the basis of toxicology studies. However, traditional analytical approaches targeting a pre-established list of target compounds can have many limitations:
- The European Union currently references more than 110,000 molecules. For obvious reasons of cost and methodology, not all of these molecules can be specifically monitored in water.
- Once in aquatic ecosystems, the molecules released are often not accumulated in their native forms, but are modified following chemical or microbiological reactions to give rise to compounds known as micropollutant metabolites. Some of these metabolites are relatively well known for molecules such as atrazine, but for the vast majority of micropollutants their nature is often completely unknown. Consequently, there is a major risk that metabolites of micropollutants that accumulate strongly or have a significant environmental effect are simply not sought after.
- The toxicity of molecules measured under laboratory conditions does not necessarily accurately reflect the toxicity of these same compounds under environmental conditions. Firstly, the cocktail effect is not or only very partially taken into account in conventional analyses. This effect can be defined as a modification of the effects of a molecule when it is in association with other compounds. In view of the high number of micropollutants (and the even higher number of metabolites of micropollutants, most of which are unknown), it is practically impossible to test all potential combinations of these molecules and thus their toxicity in “real” conditions.
It is to lift the technological locks that LODIAG invests heavily in R&D to offer you innovative solutions that will enable you to anticipate the next regulatory advances.