• Period | 2015 - 2017
  • Country | Europe
  • Market | Geotechnics and Environment
  • Project Manager | Hans Peter Arp
R&D program|

PROMOTE - protect water from chemicals

Protecting water resources from mobile trace chemicals (PROMOTE) is a research program funded under the EU program Joint Project Initiative (JPI), where member states receive funding through their own national Research Council.
Drinking water quality is potentially threatened by the release of chemicals that we are producing and using. If these chemicals are poorly degradable and polar or if poorly degradable and polar transformation products (TP) are formed from them, then these chemicals may specifically be of concern.

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PROMOTE focuses on the quality of source waters for drinking water and possible risks of PMOC. With this research focus and its consortium, PROMOTE will link two important fields of European policy, the EU water policy and the chemicals policy (REACH).

Background and project description

Protecting water resources from mobile trace chemicals (PROMOTE) is an EU program Joint Project Initiative (JPI) where member states receive funding through their own national Research Council.

Drinking water quality is potentially threatened by the release of chemicals that we are producing and using. If these chemicals are poorly degradable and polar or if poorly degradable and polar transformation products (TP) are formed from them, then these chemicals may specifically be of concern. We denote such compounds mobile organic chemicals (MOC). Such compounds may either be Chemicals registered under REACH regulation (1907/2006) or TP of such chemicals. MOC, if they are relatively stable against (micro-) biological degradation or abiotic transformation, may be called persistent MOC (PMOC). For PMOC dilution may be the major mechanism of concentration decrease in water cycles and they endanger source waters of drinking water. PMOC have a high potential to break through natural or technical barriers. This is particularly likely in partially closed water cycles which we encounter in all densely populated regions.

The JPI Consurtium PROMOTE (Protecting water resources from mobile trace chemicals) focuses on the quality of source waters for drinking water and possible risks of PMOC. With this research focus and its consortium PROMOTE will link two important fields of European policy, the EU water policy and the chemicals policy (REACH).

Since the enforcement of the Water Framework Directive in 2000 [1] priority substances and priority hazardous substances have been defined which have to be monitored and/or phased out. Besides heavy metals most of these substances are pesticides or pharmaceuticals. Only those pollutants that are well amenable by established analytical procedures used in monitoring may later be regulated. Due to the lack of such methods for PMOC none of the priority substances of the WFD, including the most recent proposals is a PMOC compound.

PROMOTE contributes to linking two important fields of European policy, the EU water policy (WFD and related directives) and the EU chemicals policy (REACH). Substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) are considered substances of very high concern (SVHC) according to article 57 of REACH. Since PMOC are not bioaccumulative the PBT criteria of REACH are not suited to protect water resources. A very urgent question is, if PMOC might give rise to an equivalent level of concern (like PBT/vPvB) and consequently would fulfil the article 57 (f) of REACH. This could be the case if PMOC cannot be removed by technical measures during drinking water production. PROMOTE aims at clarifying the question whether there is a need as well as the potential to improve the protections of drinking water resources by chemicals regulation (REACH).

PROMOTE strives at answering the following questions:

  • How can we detect PMOC? - The answer will be given by developing suitable analytical methods for screening and quantification of PMOC based on LC-MS and LC-MS/MS.
  • How can we identify PMOC based on existing knowledge? - PROMOTE will answer this question (i) based on the analysis of REACH registration data and (ii) use of software for modelling physico¿chemical properties as well as stability of chemicals and (Iii) by laboratory studies on the transformation of REACH chemicals.
  • Which PMOC occur and at what concentration in European river basins and where do they come from? - PROMOTE will answer this question by first analytical screening for PMOC and then generating quantitative data (monitoring) in five river basins in Europe.
  • Which PMOC do occur in source water for drinking water production and are these removed in drinking water production? - PROMOTE will answer this question by determining PMOC concentrations in source waters in the five river basins and by following PMOC through drinking water production plants.
  • Could these PMOC be safely removed? - The answer will be given by laboratory studies on the reactivity of PMOC towards advanced treatment methods and identification of reaction products.
  • How can we avoid the future discharge of PMOC compounds? - PROMOTE will develop compounds specific recommendations depending on the knowledge on occurrence and discharge gathered in monitoring, on the removal options and on possible health concerns.
  • Can the registration process of REACH be used to avoid future source water contamination with PMOC? - PROMOTE will address this question by defining criteria for quantitative physico-chemical properties that indicate mobility and persistence of a chemical.

PROMOTE is divided into 7 Work packages:

  • Screening
  • Prioritization
  • Transformations
  • Monitoring
  • Advanced treatment 
  • Mitigation / Recommendations
  • Outreach

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The consortium of PROMOTE consists of seven partners and six associated partners.

 

While only five of the seven partners apply for funding all seven provide significant input and contribution to the core research of the consortium. The six associated partners do also represent different groups of stakeholders and are clearly linked to the activities of the consortium in different river basis.

 

With its partners PROMOTE extends from southern (Spain) to northern Europe (Norway), integrating two countries which are not participants of this JPI Water initiative (Switzerland, Netherlands).
 

The project partners:

Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH - UFZ (UFZ), the Coordinator

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)

University of Santiago de Compostela (USC)

Hochschule Fresenius gem GmbH (HSF)

Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI)

University of Amsterdam (UVA) (non funded member)

Federal Environmental Agency of Germany (UBA)

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