This study is focused on man-made EC which are already present in the compartments of the soil, groundwater and sediment. This study is not an overview of all available literature and data on EC.

To wrap up available knowledge and experience related to legislation, governance and policy in the European Union, a website and questionnaire was made and a search on relevant literature has been carried out. The website had over 3.200 visitors between May and October 2015. Over more than 500 experts in the field of soil, groundwater and sediment in Europe were asked to fill in the questionnaire. We received 12 questionnaires and some information was uploaded. In contrast to the limited response to the questionnaire, a lot of support and information was gained during the international meetings.


There is a lot of scientific information regarding the toxicity and fate of EC. Scientific research is summarized and interpreted by several international networks for scientific research, for example the European NORMAN Network. The knowledge from these networks must be used prioritize data collection and environmental monitoring. The (political) prioritization of these substances, based on their toxicity and environmental hazards, is defined in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). For all EC it applies that the lack of understanding the effects and the lack of factual data in soil, groundwater and sediment are by far the main obstacle to develop a practical approach.

Generally, the soil and groundwater system responds slowly. Therefore the effects of EC will be notable in the long run. In the mean time irreversible damage may be caused that will affect our resources. Similar to the actions that were taken in order to secure our fresh water system, it is time to address the problems that causes EC and take further actions for our soil system.


The main conclusion of this inventory is that EU member states should work together to develop an effective approach for EC in soil, groundwater and sediments. Based on the (lack of) awareness in most of the EU countries, it is most effective to work together on an international level with all stakeholders. This gives the advantage that all stakeholders are at the same level of knowledge.

Determining where and in what concentrations EC are present in the soil, groundwater and sediment should be a priority. Subsequently the true environmental and human risks have to be determined. Adequate strategies and effective solutions can only be developed when this practical information is available. It is expected that the risks are most acute near contaminated hotspots and that those hotspots are relatively easy to remediate or to manage and prevent further damage. Based on this inventory our opinion is to focus on an (international) approach initially.

In the future new EC will arise. The Stockholm Convention lists new substances every two years. An approach for the management of EC in soil, groundwater and sediments can be based on the experience and work of scientific research and the decisions of institutes like the Stockholm Convention or Norman Network.

The report of the inventory of awareness, approaches and policy can be downloaded here.

The reviewed documents for the literature assessment can be downloaded here.

Results inventory

Awareness, approaches and policy of emerging contaminants in Europe


Download documents about emerging contaminants

Factsheets PFOS/PFOA

Find out more about the emerging contaminants PFOS/PFOA