This press release is available in German.
Leipzig -- Pesticides are a bigger problem than had long been assumed. This is the conclusion of a study in which scientists analysed data on 500 organic substances in the basins of four major European rivers. It was revealed that 38 per cent of these chemicals are present in concentrations which could potentially have an effect on organisms. According to scientists writing in the journal Science of the Total Environment, this conclusion clearly shows that contamination by organic chemicals is a problem throughout Europe. Most of the substances classified as a risk to the environment in the study were pesticides; the majority of these are not on the European list of priority substances which have to be monitored regularly. They therefore believe that the list of chemicals specified by the EU Water Framework Directive as having to be monitored by national authorities urgently needs to be revised.
The aim of the EU Water Framework Directive is that surface water and groundwater bodies should reach a good environmental and chemical status by 2015. The chemical status will be assessed based on a list of 33 so-called priority pollutants. As over 14 million chemicals are on the market and over 100,000 of these are produced on an industrial scale, the authorities have to confine their monitoring to a manageable number of pollutants. Throughout Europe scientists are therefore working on methods to establish which pollutants these should be.
An important contribution to this has now been made by a study completed by the scientists of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) together with colleagues in France, Slovakia, Belgium and Spain. They analysed a database compiled for the EU MODELKEY research project which contains five million records on physicochemical data. The study focused on or
|Contact: Tilo Arnhold|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres