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Further development of Water Framework Directive necessary
Date:11/30/2007

better for this important list to set out not just priority substances with appropriate quality standards, but also priority effects. That would enable us to monitor cytotoxic, hormonally active and mutagenic substances without knowing about them in detail in advance. This would make it easier to discover new risk substances with harmful effects and to channel the resources where they are really needed. The authorities would be able to react much more flexibly." What is decisive for the ecosystem, according to Dr Brack, is not the simple presence of a substance, but its effect.

Toxic chemicals are, however, just one part of the problem. River ecosystems are exposed to many other stress factors as well, often at the same time, such as e.g. structural changes, oxygen deficiency as a result of overfertilisation and accidentally imported species. With its focus on ecological status instead of on individual stress factors, the Water Framework Directive encourages a holistic view of these ecosystems with their multiple stresses. However, this strength can also prove to be a weakness if the concepts needed to assess and predict the importance and combined effect of the various stress factors are not available. The scientists see a great need for future research at this level. This fact was emphasised at an international conference on risk assessment in European river basins, which was organised by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig. "The conference showed that there are better assessment methods available in many fields that are just waiting to be integrated into the WFD guidance documents," says Dr Michaela Hein.

Other factors that play an important role in many European river basins are negative effects on the free flow of rivers and on the structure of the riverbed and river bank area. From this point of view, the Water Framework Directive is in conflict with other European requirements. For instance, an EU Directive on the promotio
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Contact: Dr. Werner Brack
49-341-235-1531
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres  
Source:Eurekalert

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