May 9, 2022 by Graham Merrington


Adam, Iain, and Graham have recently published a Critical Perspectives article in ET&C with colleagues from NiPERA. The article examines the new approach produced by the European Commission to Deselect EQS under the Water Framework Directive.

An assessment was performed for nickel by the European Commission to Deselect substances for which EQS are set under the Water Framework Directive at the end of 2021, using a limited regulatory monitoring freshwater dataset and not accounting for bioavailability. In this assessment nickel was not considered as a candidate for deselection, as it was considered to show EU-wide risks. Importantly, the EQS for nickel is bioavailability-based, therefore, was derived accounting for bioavailability.

Following the same European Commission approach, and using the EQS as it set out in the Directive (i.e. accounting for bioavailability) and considering a regulatory monitoring dataset of over 300,000 samples from over 19,000 sites from over 20 Member States, the publication shows that nickel meets all the European Commission’s own criteria for deselection. Furthermore, EQS compliance is shown to be greater than 99%. This paper draws attention to the finite resources available for environmental sampling and questions the need for EU-wide statutory monitoring when ecological risks are demonstrably low, and potential environmental benefits from such ongoing monitoring are likely to be negligible.