Environmental specimen banks and the European Green Deal

2022, Journals

Fliedner, Annette; Rüdel, Heinz; Göckener, Bernd; Krehenwinkel, Henrik; Paulus, Martin; Koschorreck, Jan
Sci Total Environ, 852 (2022), 158430, online 31 August 2022


The study highlights the potential of Environmental Specimen Banks (ESBs) for implementing the Zero Pollution Ambition and the Biodiversity Strategy of the European Green Deal. By drawing on recent monitoring studies of European ESBs, we illustrate the role ESBs already play in assessing the state of ecosystems in Europe and how they help to make developments over time visible.

The studies reveal the ubiquitous presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, halogenated flame retardants, chlorinated paraffins, plasticizers, cyclic volatile methyl siloxanes, UV-filters, pharmaceuticals, and microplastics in the European environment. Temporal trends demonstrate the effectiveness of European regulations on perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, pentabrominated diphenylethers and diethylhexyl phthalate, but also point to the rise of substitutes such as non-phthalate plasticizers and short-chain perfluoroalkyl substances. Other studies are wake-up calls indicating the emergence of currently unregulated compounds such as long-chain chlorinated paraffins. Ecological studies show temporal trends in biometric parameters and stable isotope signatures that suggest long-term changes in environmental conditions. Studies on biodiversity of ecosystems using environmental DNA are still in their beginnings, but here too there is evidence of shifts in community composition that can be linked to changing environmental conditions.

This review demonstrates the value of ESBs (a) for describing the status of the environment, (b) for monitoring temporal changes in environmental pollution and the ecologic condition of ecosystems and thereby (c) for supporting regulators in prioritizing their actions towards the objectives of the Green Deal.

doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158430

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