The group of Emerging Contaminants (EC) is very diverse, for example in terms of toxicity, behaviour and waste water treatment or remediation techniques. Hence the scale of the environmental problem caused by these contaminants is unclear. The last decade more than 2100 scientific studies have shown that EC pose a potential risk to humans, plants and/or animals. There is, however, a lack of knowledge about the factual situation and risks in the soil, sediment and groundwater system. Also the policy approaches in different countries are not well known.


The various emerging contaminants have in common that there is much uncertainty about them, which leads to the absence of a strategy and policy. The following observations about emerging contaminants are:

  • More than 2100 scientific studies have shown that they pose a potential risk to humans, plants and / or animals. However, there’s a lack of knowledge of the practical implications;
  • The emerging contaminants are not examined in regular environmental investigation. This leads to a lack of data;
  • As a result of a lack of data, little is known about the practical situation and risks in the soil, sediment and groundwater system;
  • Appropriate strategies and technologies to control existing contaminants are not in development;
  • Uncertainty about legal and financial consequences of (potential) contamination will hamper an efficient approach.


For the inventory of knowledge and awareness, approaches and policy on emerging contaminants, a literature assessment was conducted to available information about EC and PFOS/PFOA in these countries. The focus was on knowledge, research data and remediation techniques and this review also mapped out the European policy related to EC in soil, groundwater and sediment.

The reviewed documents can be downloaded here.


PFOS and PFOA are on the Stockholm Convention list, and therefore at EU level recognized as emerging contaminants. In the Netherlands and Flanders, these parameters are considered as ‘leading emerging contaminants’, among others because of their occurrence in water treatment plants. However, in the Netherlands and in Flanders there is, despite of the societal relevance, no procedure on how to deal with these emerging contaminants. It is therefore important to learn more about these parameters, especially about their presence and behaviour in soil, groundwater and/or sediments. In the factsheets you can find out more about PFOS and PFOA. 

Go to factsheets

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