Novel RMs produced to support WFD analyses by Nick Boley

Scientists at the European Commission’s Joint Research Laboratory (JRC), based in Geel (Belgium) have developed a series of three water reference materials (RMs) containing priority hazardous substances (PHS) as defined under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). These three novel materials contain:

  1. eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),
  2. six polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and
  3. tributyltin

A recent report published under the Government Chemist’s Advisory Function on analytical measurement issues in relation to the WFD highlighted the dearth of reference materials to support laboratories carrying out monitoring of water bodies in support of the WFDs. These new materials provide an extremely welcome development to help and support monitoring laboratories in carrying out these measurements accurately and precisely at the very low concentrations required.


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.

New EA approach to hazardous pollutants discharges by Nick Boley

The Environment Agency will be introducing more stringent rules covering discharges of hazardous chemicals in surface waters. following a partial response to a consultation on this subject which closed in December 2013 to amend the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.

The procedure for screening hazardous pollutants in water discharges will be tightened, with the emphasis on the more toxic pollutants and is aimed to deliver compliance with the agency’s “no deterioration” policy which requires “control of discharges which cause more than 10% deterioration against the EU Environmental Quality Standard (EQS)”.

One of the main concerns about this change of direction is from those responsible for measuring pollutants in laboratories – including water companies. The methods of analysis available for many of the most highly toxic pollutants which would be caught by this change struggle to cope with the current levels as specified in the EQS and so there is a potential large cost to laboratories to gear up their procedures to cope. The ability of measurement methods to enforce and monitor pollution under any regulatory regime is an important aspect and should not be ignored.


European Commission Produces Recommendation on Fracking by Nick Boley

The European Commission has published a Recommendation (COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 22 January 2014 on minimum principles for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high-volume hydraulic fracturing (2014/70/EU)) which covers high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

The Recommendation highlights a number of issues which concern the use of chemicals in the fracking process, and the resulting environmental concerns. It makes clear the Member States need ensure that any chemicals used in the fracking process must comply with both REACH and Biocides Product Regulations.

There will be a need to monitor water quality where fracking takes place, in order to ascertain whether any chemicals used in the process have found their way into the water at significant levels. This will add to the workload of environmental and water company laboratories, and accredited methods will need to be worked up for any potential contaminants which are outside the current scope of laboratories water quality testing.

ECHA Consultation on Nonyl Phenol and Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate by Nick Boley

The European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, has initiated a consultation regarding the placing on the market of textile clothing, fabric accessories and interior textile articles containing nonylphenol (NP) or nonylphenol ethoxylate ( NPE) that can be washed in water. This was initiated by a request from the Swedish authorities who are seeking a restriction on the use of NP and NPE.

Recent work by the UK Environment Agency has shown that over 90% of articles analysed (underwear cotton) contained NP or NPE and these were mainly imported from outside the EU. Analyses showed that virtually all the NP and NPE were removed in the first two washes. Accordingly, it is estimated that over 150 kg of NP and NPE may be released annually into the UK environment via washing machine effluent. NP is on the list of Priority Hazardous Substances under the EU Water Framework Directive.

Endocrine disrupting chemical found in bottled water by Nick Boley
September 13, 2013, 15:21
Filed under: chemicals, Water | Tags: , ,

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt in Frankfurt am Main, and the German Federal Institute of Hydrology have conducted tests on bottled water which have shown the presence of the endocrine disrutping chemical (EDC)  di(2-diethyl hexyl) fumarate (DEHF).

Tests were carried out using bioassay which confirmed endocrine disrupting behaviour, followed by High Resolution Gas Chromatography Mass Spectometry (HR-GCMS) to identify the EDC substance itself.

Although the report does not indicate the levels of DEHC in the bottled water, so the risk cannot be easily estimated, many EDCs are known to be active at exceptionally low levels and can be considered not to have an threshhold value.


New Priority Substances added to list for Surface Waters by Nick Boley

The European Parliament has approved the addition of 12 new priority substances (PS) to the list of substances known to be a pollution risk in surface waters in Europe.

Under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which aims to improve the quality of EU water bodies, member states are required to conduct monitoring for all 45 priority substances on the list, many at very low concentrations. The maximum concentrations (EQSs, or Environmental Quality Standards) for the new PSs are much lower. Revised EQS values for the existing 33 PSs will be developed for 2015.

The new PS are:

  • Dicofol
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its derivatives (PFOS)
  • Quinoxyfen
  • Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds
  • Aclonifen
  • Bifenox
  • Cybutryne
  • Cypermethrin
  • Dichlorvos
  • Hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDD)
  • Heptachlor and Heptachlor epoxide
  • Terbutryn

In addition, 3 substances – the pharmaceuticals E2, EE2 and diclofenac – have been placed on the “watch list”, with the European Commission asked to develop a strategic approach to the risks they pose. The UK was in the vanguard of persuading the Commission to downgrade these three items from the PS list to the watch list on the basis of the cost of their removal from water supplies. These substances enter the water supply mainly through the domestic drainage system as they arise fr0m some of the most widely-taken pharmaceuticals in the UK.

Measurement of these substances in water at the extremely low levels specified by the Regulations, is very challenging. It is the responsibility of member states to develop and apply analytical procedures in order to monitor the quality of surface waters under the WFD. Effective implementation of the Regulations is, of course, dependent on the ability to measure these substances accurately and precisely.