Norman network: exchange of information on emerging contaminants in Europe

Stefan Kools and Ton van Leerdam attend Norman General Assembly Meeting

The NORMAN network enhances the exchange of information on emerging environmental substances, and encourages the validation and harmonisation of common measurement methods and monitoring tools so that the requirements of risk assessors and risk managers can be better met. It specifically seeks both to promote and to benefit from the synergies between research teams from different countries in the field of emerging substances.

From 30th November until the 1st of December, the annual meeting was organised. More than 100  experts dealing with emerging substances – whether in studying their occurrence and effects or risk assessment and risk management e.g. research centres, academia and governmental institution meets together in Leipzig.

KWR is a member of the NORMAN network and represents the Dutch drinking water companies. Stefan has been a regular visitor for many years participated in several meetings. On the first day, a highly attended work group on prioritisation of chemicals of emerging concern was meeting to discuss the current NORMAN chemical dashboard, its databases and tools. By the collection of over 9 million (!) records of data, the NORMAN data is more and more recognized to feed EU rule making. ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) was present and presented during the meeting their view how REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) can benefit from monitoring data and prioritization setting efforts. In a long day of presentations, an overview of new modules to integrate non-target data, toxicity data and data acquisition was discussed. It was interesting to see the activities on the other side of the ocean, as NORMAN is mainly EU based. The founder of ChemSpider Anthony Williams presented how US-EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) is expanding. They are now combining all EPA and other databases, enabling quick and comprehensive searches on compounds. It is already possible to get formulas, chemical spectra and integrated literature searches. Integration with the Toxcast and other EPA data is foreseen in the near future.

On the second day, Stefan presented the planned activities on microplastics in the Working Group 5 and identified the large interest of NORMAN members in the ‘plastics in the environment’. As many activities with different purposes new plans need to be structured and coordinated. Therefore, a new workshop is planned in January 2018 at EAWAG, while this institute will host another conference by the end of the year. KWR is connected with these efforts since we believe there is a clear need for harmonization and exchange of knowledge. Policy makers are asking sound data as a result of the increased public attention on the subject.

In 2018, we are seeking several opportunities to connect the work in international contexts. For that, we proposed efforts on both chemical and toxicological research. By the end of December, all proposals should be ready. Then all membership fees are put in a research fund and distributed over proposals, based on a democratic voting system (one vote per company).

Chemical screening with high resolution Mass Spectrometry

Ton presented the highlights of the LC-HRMS inter-laboratory study (ILS), organized by KWR. This ILS was funded by the Dutch drinking water companies to assess the status quo of LC-HRMS (Liquid Chromatography – High Resolution Mass Spectrometry) suspect and non-target screening methods for the analysis of different water types. In addition to the 5 Dutch participants, 12 participants joined the ILS via NORMAN, which returned high density data. The evaluation of the data is performed in close cooperation with the University of Athens (UoA). To continue this research, we presented a proposal for the in-depth data interpretation of suspect and non-target screening results. The added value will be an increased knowledge about the suitability of screening with LC-HRMS for a broad spectrum of organic contaminants in different types of water.

Discussion about the results of the ILS: Nikolaos S. Thomaidis (UoA), Ton and Reza Aalizadeh (UoA).