World Water Day turns twenty and BOKU celebrates with new study results: since 2019, the EU project bODEREC-CE has been initializing pilot areas in Central Europe for monitoring pollutants from pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water, which have received little attention so far. Now the results are presented.

In recent years, there has been increasing research on contaminants in water caused by pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). "But there are still many gaps in our knowledge," explains Elisabetta De Vito-Francesco of the Institute of Urban and Industrial Water Management and Water Protection at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna.

The boDEREC-CE study, in which Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Poland and Slovenia participated, aims to change that. The project ends on March 31, 2022. "The main result will be an innovative decision support tool based on two models, which can be used as an early warning tool, taking into account future legal limits," says project leader Josip Terzić of the Croatian Geological Survey.

On the one hand, the European cooperation developed tools for monitoring and investigation of PPCPs in drinking water sources as well as a management system for waterworks. On the other hand, the results are also expected to contribute to the development of recommendations for legislative changes to laws such as drinking water standards and to raise awareness of the presence of previously undetected contaminants. "About 1,900 medicines are approved by the European Medicines Agency," De Vito-Francesco explains. Tools are needed to mitigate contaminants and take preventive measures, he said. Moderate use of pharmaceuticals and personal hygiene products should also be promoted among the general public, he adds.

At the beginning of the project, the project partners obtained an overview of the current situation. In the various countries, there were sometimes great differences in the research and monitoring of PPCPs, with nowhere being very developed. A total of 122 PPCPs, including 101 pharmaceutical and 21 personal care products, were monitored in seven pilot regions during the study. BOKU undertook the sampling in Waidhofen an der Ybbs and created a hydrological model to track the behavior and transport pathways of the contaminants in each water source. In this way, the main source can be identified and countermeasures can be taken accordingly. In addition, BOKU played a major role in the development of the modePROCON software, which enables the qualitative estimation of the probability of occurrence of PPCPs in water and supports end users in obtaining reliable information.

In Austria, more than a hundred pollutants are monitored by default, but hardly any of the PPCPs from the boDEREC-CE study are on this list so far. "Only knowledge about as many pollutants as possible, their effects and suitable prevention measures can guarantee long-term high-quality water," says De Vito-Francesco.

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BOKU researcher Elisabetta De Vito-Francesco presents the Interreg Central Europe project boDEREC-CE today, Tuesday, March 22, from 6pm, also in the BOKU Zoom Room: followed by discussion.


DI Elisabetta De Vito-Francesco
University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences
Institute for Sanitary Engineering, Industrial Management and Water Protection (SIG)
Phone: +43 1 47654 81141

De Vito-Francesco will also be present with this project today, Tuesday, March 22, at the "Water is a human right!" event organized by the "Viva con Agua" organization at the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel. This cultural action is intended to draw attention to the worldwide lack of access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene resources. 
BOKU will broadcast impressions of Elisabetta De Vito-Francesco's performance at this Ferris wheel event live on its BOKU Instagram channel in Stories.
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