A study estimated that 67% of the European surface water bodies would fail to reach good chemical status as defined in the The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), from current emission levels evaluation.
Human activities are a driving force influencing the environment and human health as a result. A variety of pressures may affect surface water quality and quantity, with various impacts on aquatic life, ecosystem services and human health.
Chemical pollution is an increasingly worrying water pressure, and for that reason various regulations have been defined to prevent, assess and manage the water quality. But this is still insufficient as long as no comprehensive system-level diagnosis of pressures and impacts has been established.
Actually, chemical pollution pressures and impacts assessments are considered separately from other types of pressures such as effects on biodiversity. For surface waters, the separate assessment of chemical pressures can be recognized in two main lists of the EU-Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the U.S. Clean Water Rule
The separate assessment of the pressures and the impacts of chemical pollution resulted in poor diagnosis of its effect on aquatic life and therefore led to an ineffective management. Indeed, the European Commission has recently encouraged every scientific criticism and improvement of the existing approaches.
One of these approaches was published in Nature review on 9th September as a special scientific report.
In the report, chemical pollution for more than 35 000 hydrological units was assessed for 24 priority substances such as alachlor, atrazine (pesticides) and benzene (fuel), which are defined as compounds of EU-wide concern. The hydrological units include separate rivers from different altitudes in Europe.
The study found that the yearly mean concentration of one or more priority substances is predicted to be above its chemical-specific regulatory annual average environmental quality standard.
The study estimated also that 67% of the european surface water bodies would fail to reach good chemical status as defined in the The EU Water Framework Directive, from current emission levels evaluation.
However, the study does not show large outcomes of a comprehensive pressure assessment for Europe, which would require in-depth analyses as report writers explained.