Watch List for pharmaceuticals established under WFD by Nick Boley

The European Commission has legally established a “Watch List” for three pharmaceutical substances in EU water bodies under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Commission Implementing Decision 2015/495 lists the three substances diclofenac, 17-beta-estradiol (E2) and 17-alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2) for inclusion on this initial watch list, as well as Estrone (E1) a breakdown product of E2. This necessitates Member States making a series of measurements for these substances across a wide range of water bodies in order to ascertain if there is a potential problem. The proposed levels at which these should be monitored are exceptionally low – 10 ng/L for diclofenac, 0.4 ng/L for E2 and E1, and o.035 ng/L for EE2. The capability of many laboratories to measure at these levels is not proven, and the cost of these measurements will be significant.

The Commission has also proposed that some further substances now be added to this Watch List:

oxadiazon, methiocarb, 2,6-ditert-butyl-4-methylphenol, tri-allate, four neonicotinoid pesticides, the macrolide antibiotic erythromycin, and 2-ethylhexyl 4-methoxycinnamate. Monitoring for these substances, albeit at a higher level than the pharmaceuticals (between 9 and 6000 ng/L) must also be carried out, which will add a further cost burden to laboratories in Member States.


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