An expanded conceptual framework for solution-focused management of chemical pollution in European waters

This study describes a conceptual framework for solutions-focused management of chemical contaminants built on novel and systematic approaches for identifying, quantifying and reducing risks of these substances. The conceptual framework was developed in interaction with stakeholders representing relevant authorities and organisations responsible for managing environmental quality of water bodies. Stakeholder needs were compiled via a survey and dialogue. The content of the conceptual framework was thereafter developed with inputs from relevant scientific disciplines. The conceptual framework consists of four access points: Chemicals, Environment, Abatement and Society, representing different aspects and approaches to engaging in the issue of chemical contamination of surface waters. It widens the scope for assessment and management of chemicals in comparison to a traditional (mostly) per chemical risk assessment approaches by including abatement- and societal approaches as optional solutions. The solution-focused approach implies an identification of abatement- and policy options upfront in the risk assessment process. The conceptual framework was designed for use in current and future chemical pollution assessments for the aquatic environment, including the specific challenges encountered in prioritising individual chemicals and mixtures, and is applicable for the development of approaches for safe chemical management in a broader sense. The four access points of the conceptual framework are interlinked by four key topics representing the main scientific challenges that need to be addressed, i.e.: identifying and prioritising hazardous chemicals at different scales; selecting relevant and efficient abatement options; providing regulatory support for chemicals management; predicting and prioritising future chemical risks. The conceptual framework aligns current challenges in the safe production and use of chemicals. The current state of knowledge and implementation of these challenges is described. The authors concluded that the use of the conceptual framework, and addressing the challenges, is intended to support: (1) forwarding sustainable use of chemicals, (2) identification of pollutants of priority concern for cost-effective management, (3) the selection of optimal abatement options and (4) the development and use of optimised legal and policy instruments.

Authors: Munthe J, Brorström-Lundén E, Rahmberg M, Posthuma L, Altenburger R, Brack W, Bunke D, Engelen G, Gawlik BM, van Gils J, Herráez DL, Rydberg T, Slobodnik J, van Wezel A. ;Full Source: Environmental Sciences Europe. 2017;29(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s12302-017-0112-2. Epub 2017 Mar 9. ;