Scientists from 40 countries focus on interdisciplinary approaches for health and the environment

On Sunday, 9 October, the international congress on interdisciplinary approaches for health and the environment, ISES 2016, organised by the International Society of Exposure Science, will open in Utrecht. Scientists from 40 countries in 6 continents will be sharing their knowledge about interdisciplinary approaches for heath and the environment.

Plenary opening

The congress opens with a plenary address by prof. Annemarie van Wezel (KWR, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development) on ‘water as integrator of uses, stakes and exposures’. She focuses on the exposure to (emerging) contaminants via the watercycle, the relations between various water sources and societies’ use of water and chemicals, exposure pathways, possible effects on health, and mitigating measures. Van Wezel discusses the key role of advanced analytical techniques, for instance, suspect screening using high-resolution mass spectrometry. The latest techniques allow for the analysis of a wide range of industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals and pesticides, including their transformation products. The new ways of assessing such substances are also making it possible to better determine which of them should be researched and tackled with the highest priority.

Nanomaterials and polar compounds

The analysis of nanoparticles like nanoplastics will also receive attention. We dispose of an increasing number of analytical techniques for this purpose, field flow fractionation for example, as well as models, based on the use of nanomaterials on land and in water, to predict how they impact water quality. Van Wezel also discusses how the health risks of polar compounds can be determined, even when few data are available: a highly relevant subject given that polar compounds are hard to remove from water.

Broad KWR contribution

Other subjects include the epidemiological techniques using big data, the effects of the frequently very complex mixtures of substances that can occur in water, and the risks of new technologies and how these can be mitigated. Van Wezel will also compare aqueous exposure to chemical contaminants with exposure via other pathways. Later in the congress, Thomas ter Laak, Annemieke Kolkman and Erik Emke, all of KWR, will make presentations on, respectively, how non-target screening can inform policy, how disinfection products can be detected, and how continuous quality monitoring is important for the drinking water sector in enabling it to respond adequately to incidents.