Water JPI Knowledge Hub on Contaminants of Emerging Concern

The Water Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) includes the theme “Developing Safe Water Systems for European Citizens” with the main goal being to protect the health of European citizens through the provision of safe water. Attention is particularly paid to the impacts of i) emerging pollutants; and ii) water infrastructures on environmental and human health.

Millions of Europeans receive high quality drinking water every day. However, the provision of safe water for drinking purposes is threatened by, amongst other factors, animal and human wastes, pesticides, emerging contaminants, and emerging risks from “established” pollutants, aged water supply infrastructures, sub-optimal water management, and the ongoing effects of climate change which can further exacerbate all of these factors. The first Water JPI Knowledge Hub theme is on Contaminants of Emerging Concern (Water JPI SRIA Theme 2). Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs), which includes emerging pollutants, are substances/compounds that at present are not commonly monitored, but when present are suspected to have adverse ecological and human health effects.

To view the full description of the SRIA Theme 2 and subtheme 2.1, please consult the Water JPI SRIA 2.0.

The aim of the Knowledge Hub on Contaminants of Emerging Concern

To achieve the appropriate implementation in all relevant policies and protect the health of Europeans, the Water JPI elaborates on further Research and Innovation actions that should be undertaken in the area of emerging pollutants. The topic of Contaminants of Emerging Concern today is considered one of the main issues related to water quality requirements for all different types of water resources, be it human or environmental demand. Key knowledge gaps remain around the environmental behaviour of emerging and “established” pollutants and their impacts on human and environmental health. The Knowledge Hub seeks to address knowledge gaps as well as to consolidate knowledge regarding their behaviour in the environment (water, soil, air, living organisms) and their long-term impact on the health and lives of ecosystems and citizens. Future activities should contribute to a better understanding of the socioeconomic factors that influence perception around regulation and treatment of emerging pollutants and water management practices based upon the use of recycled water resources. 

Targeting Stakeholders

The challenge of Contaminants of Emerging Concern affects different types of stakeholders from concerned customers, national and European boards and networks up to international organisations such as World Health Organisation or various United Nations’ organisations. While many of these initiatives fund research in this area, a picture on emerging pollutants in the aquatic environment sufficient for decision making and a holistic risk assessment is still not in place. For example, even while European chemicals legislation (e.g. REACH - regulation on registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) is implementing a precautionary approach, it even seems that further uncertainties and knowledge gaps are identified by scientists as a consequence of continued emerging pollutants research. In that regard, it has to be stressed, that the Knowledge Hub cannot provide answers to all questions related to emerging pollutants, but it can contribute to the compilation of available evidence-based knowledge and information to respond to specific stakeholder questions. The Knowledge Hub will also help to transfer scientific knowledge to a broader base and act as a contact point between and for science and stakeholders. 

Focus on Contaminants of Emerging Concern

The Knowledge Hub on Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) include substances such as polar organic compounds, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, perfluorinated and organo-silicon compounds, endocrine disruptors, disinfection by-products (DBPs), antibiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses, cyanotoxins, microplastics, and nanomaterials.

As indicated, one main task of the Knowledge Hub is to improve communication and knowledge exchange between stakeholders and the scientific community in the field of emerging contaminants. The topic of Contaminants of Emerging Concern is a complex one, with frequent questions asked concerning their impact on environmental and subsequently on human health. A better understanding of their occurrence and fate in the urban water cycle is needed, as well as strategies for monitoring, mitigation and removal and finally the implementation to of any legal regulatory requirements promulgated after risk assessment. These are subsequently addressed by scientists in numerous national and international research projects funded by different funding agencies. As several of these projects focus on specific aspects of the whole topic, it can be difficult to extract the specific information stakeholders need. The Knowledge Hub should bridge this gap by synthetizing individual scientific results to create knowledge outputs that respond to stakeholder demands. It has to be emphasized, that the success of the Knowledge Hub will be determined by the commitment, involvement and contribution of all its participants. 

Organisation of the Knowledge Hub on Contaminants of Emerging Concern

The Knowledge Hub on Contaminants of Emerging Concern consists of international researchers within different areas of expertise. The Knowledge Hub Coordinator, Norbert Kreuzinger, is responsible for the coordination of the tasks performed within the Knowledge Hub with support from the Knowledge Hub Facilitator, a communication expert and Water JPI funding partners.

Presentation of the international researchers involved in the Knowledge Hub on CECs - see Who’s Who

Workshop to set-up the Knowledge Hub within the area of Emerging Pollutants, March 2018 Stockholm – see workshop Proceedings

Workshop Knowledge Hub on Contaminants of Emerging Concern, March 2019 Madrid – see workshop Proceedings

The 4th Knowledge Hub Workshop for the Knowledge Hub on Contaminants of Emerging Concern (KHCEC), entitled “Scientific Outputs, Knowledge Transfer and Legacy” took place in Dublin on 24October 2019. - see  Workshop Program and Proceedings.


Water JPI Knowledge Hub on CECs Policy BriefContaminants of Emerging Concern - an emerging risk in our waters” - June 2019 - for download here.

See also the first Water JPI Policy Brief on “What is contaminating our waters next? Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) – novel ways to reduce their human and environmental risks” - October 2018 - for download here.

Water JPI Knowledge Hub on CECs Stakeholder Brief “Continuous increase of CECs in the anthroposphere as a stressor for water resources” – January 2020 – for download here

Knowledge Hub Key Achievements – for download here


Water JPI KHCEC Educational Infographic on CECs

Water JPI KHCEC infographic for industry: The challenge - Implementing priority actions to address CECs.

Water JPI KHCEC infographic for society: Did you know? Introducing CECs and our water resources.

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published on 2019/06/21 14:04:00 GMT+2 last modified 2020-06-19T15:09:45+02:00