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Setting Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) for priority substances in support of the Water Framework Directive (WFD)

Author(s): legal implementation and improvement of the methodology
Congress: 2008
Author(s): Wim De Coen, Peter Lepper, Ana Paya Perez, Steven Eisenreich
European Chemicals Bureau Institute for Health and Consumer Protection Joint Research Centre, European Commission TP582, 21020 Ispra (VA), Italy

Keyword(s): Water Framework Directive, Environmental Quality Standard, priority substances, risk assessment, EU guidance
AbstractThe EU WFD (Dir 2000/60/EC) lays down the Community strategy to safeguard water quality for future generations in Europe. The setting of EQS for priority substances is one major element of the strategy in order to achieve the good chemical status of surface waters. Indeed, it will set limits on concentrations in surface water of dangerous chemical substances that pose a particular risk to animal and plant life in the aquatic environment and to human health. The WFD provides only a very brief methodological framework for assessing chemical quality standards, urging the need for more in depth studies and strategies to reach the overall protection objectives of this directive. Previously, Lepper (2002) elaborated a methodology for establishing EQS which was partly adapted based on comments from the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (CSTEE, 2004). Using this methodology EQS values for 33 priority substances were proposed. However, some outstanding methodological gaps and possible further developments were identified and presented to the Expert Advisory Forum on Priority Substances (Bonnomet and Alvarez, 2006). Recently a revision of the list of priority substances was announced which initiated a new Commission initiative coordinated by the European Chemical Bureau: a new expert group on EQS for Priority Substances (EG-EQS) was formed, bringing together specialists from all Member States, industry and environmental NGOs. Its remit includes the revision of the methodology, the production of a technical guidance for setting EQS at national level and the elaboration of EQS data sheets. The EG-EQS already identified several relevant items to be addressed: e.g. methodology for quality standards in sediment and biota; protection of top predators from secondary poisoning; protection of human health; impact on transitional, coastal or territorial marine waters; derivation of EQS for metals and PAHs mixtures. The present state of the art related to outstanding issues and improvements of the EQS methodology will be presented and discussed. Special attention will be given to the implication of the updated EQS methodology on the management and the monitoring of priority substances.
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