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Project in preparation in 2017: Screening of PFAS and total organic fluorine in Nordic countries

The Nordic screening steering group is preparing a screening on poly- and per-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and total organic fluorine (TOF) in selected environmental samples. The project will be supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The Nordic screening group did a PFAS study in 2004, which was highly valued in the regulatory and scientific community. This was one of the first studies on PFAS and it played an important role in initiating national monitoring studies in the Nordic countries and contributed to the regulation of PFOS. PFOS has in the recent years been substituted with new PFAS substances and the number of poly- and per-fluorinated substances that has been or are available on the global market may be in excess. These substances are widely used, in more well-known areas such as fire-fighting foam, textiles and food packaging, to less investigated areas, such as cosmetics, dental restorative materials and dirt-repellent coating for smartphones. Also, during the last years there has been extensive development in methods for measuring PFAS compounds in different matrices.

The aim of the project: 

  1. Measure as many relevant PFAS as possible in different samples from the Nordic countries.
  2. Measure total organic fluorine and compare the results with the targeted PFAS analysis.
  3. Analysing a wide range of matrices from all the Nordic countries to get information on contamination patterns, sources and transport of these substances.
  4. Make comparisons between both different areas and different matrices. 

The responsible laboratory for the project will be MTM Research Centre at Örebro University together with Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). They have a long experience working with PFAS-related issues. The research team at Örebro University holds a unique capacity for the suggested project and NMBU has long experience in screening of PFASs, both in chemical analysis and project management. 

The results will contribute to discussions on the regulation of PFAS chemicals in the Stockholm convention, REACH and national legislation. The result will also be of interest for AMAP assessments and possibly initiate new studies on new PFAS compounds.

Below is a table showing sampling matrices in the Nordic countries:

 Countries Sludge
 Air Fresh-water Fresh-water fish Marine fish Sea bird egg Reindeer Marine mammal
Greenland  2 
 Iceland 2
 Faroe Islands   
 Norway 2  
 Denmark 2   
 Sweden 2 
 Finland 2  2 2 

Project on the final print (2015-2017): Non-target screening of point-sources in city areas in Nordic countries

The ongoing project of the steering group is a non-targeted screening of possible environmental pollutant in selected samples from point-sources in cities. The following Nordic countries and self-governing areas are included in the project: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland.

The method ‘non-target screening’ is a technique that can identify environmental pollutants without a preceding selection of the compounds of interest. The Nordic screening group wants to use the non-target screening method to discover emerging pollutants in the Nordic environment- impact both from small cities as in Greenland and larger cities as in Sweden. The result is expected to be used for later targeted studies and in international chemical regulation processes like REACH and the Stockholm POP convention. Samples from effluent water of WWTP, fish and sediment were collected in each country. 

The aim is to have as many environmental pollutants as possible identified in each sample, including as minimum per- and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds and bisphenols.

The project is carried out by a consortium consisting of Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and Umeå University (in Sweden).” The report from the screening project will be finished in 2016.

For more information contact: Maria Dam, mariad@us.fo