Persistent mobile (PM) substances are being recognized as serious threats to the safety of water resources. In many cases, drinking water supplies have to be purified using expensive technologies because of contamination by PM substances. As part of this effort, a five-year wide-reaching European Research project, Zero Pollution of Persistent, Mobile substances, ZeroPM, has been launched. Fifteen partners are involved with a research team from the Department of Environmental Science among them led by Professor Ian Cousins.
“The most famous example of PM substances are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), but there are numerous others. This worldwide problem has triggered new policy and monitoring actions and the European Green Deal contains a broad initiative for chemical and water regulations for PM substances,” says Ian Cousins.
The project, which is led by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute with Dr Sarah Hale as the Project Coordinator and Prof. Hans Peter Arp as co-coordinator, was funded under the H2020 call “Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future: Research and innovation in support of the European Green Deal: Innovative, systemic zero-pollution solutions to protect health, environment and natural resources from persistent and mobile chemicals.”
ZeroPM will interlink and synergize prevention, prioritization and removal strategies to protect the environment and human health from PM substances. To do this, ZeroPM will establish an evidence-based multilevel framework to guide policy, technological and market incentives to minimize use, emissions and pollution of entire groups of PM substances.
Ian Cousins and his team were allocated a European Commission contribution of 757 thousand Euros to lead Work Package 2 (WP2), which focuses on Alternative Assessment, including chemical alternatives assessment (CAA).
“CAA is a systematic method of evaluating chemicals currently in use or to be used, and determining whether safer chemical options exist whose use will reduce potential impacts to human health and the environment. My team will also further develop the concept of essential use, which is integral in the recently published EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability,” says Ian Cousins.
ZeroPM will deliver policy improvements, an increase in business opportunities and competitiveness, an improved livelihood for EU citizens and beyond state-of-the-art methods, to prevent regrettable substitution and regrettable remediation of PM substance groups.
“ZeroPM will be the pathfinding project enabling the ambitions of the Chemical Strategy to become an on-the-ground reality, supporting the movement towards a zero pollution, toxic-free environment,” says Ian Cousins.
The ZeroPM partners are: Stockholm University: Sweden, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: The Netherlands, DVGW-Technologiezentrum Wasser (German Water Centre): Germany, Milieu Law and Policy Consulting: Belgium, ChemSec: Sweden, German Environment Agency: Germany, ETH Zurich: Switzerland, University of Luxembourg: Luxembourg, University of the Aegean: Greece, TG Environmental Research: UK, Chalmers: Sweden, Norwegian Water Research Institute: Norway, University of Vienna: Austria and Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine: Germany.