Using environmental monitoring data from apex predators for chemicals management: towards harmonised sampling and processing of archived wildlife samples to increase the regulatory uptake of monitoring data in chemicals management

2022, Journals

Badry, Alexander; Slobodník, Jaroslav; Alygizakis, Nikiforos; Bunke, Dirk; Cincinelli, Alessandra; Claßen, Daniela; Dekker, R.; Duke, Guy; Dulio, Valeria; Göckener, Bernd; Gkotsis, Georgios; Hanke, Georg; Jartun, Morten; Movalli, Paola; Nika, Maria Christina; Rüdel, Heinz; Thomaidis, Nikolaos; Tarazona, Jose; Tornero, Victoria; Koschorreck, Jan
Environ Sci Eur, 34 (2022), online 2 September 2022


Monitoring data from apex predators were key drivers in the development of early chemicals legislations due to the population declines of many species during the twentieth century, which was linked to certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Besides triggering the development of global treaties (e.g. the Stockholm Convention), chemical monitoring data from apex predators have been particularly important for identifying compounds with bioaccumulation properties under field conditions.

Many apex predators are protected species and only a few environmental specimen banks (ESBs) regularly collect samples as many ESBs were established during the 1980–1990s when apex predators were scarce. Today, many POPs have been banned, which contributed to the recovery of many apex predator populations. As a consequence, apex predator samples are now available in research collections (RCs) and natural history museums (NHMs). These samples can be used for routine analysis as well as for screening studies using novel analytical techniques and advanced data treatment workflows, such as suspect and non-target screening.

The LIFE APEX project has demonstrated how these samples can be used in a cost-efficient way to generate data on legacy compounds and contaminants of emerging concern. Furthermore, it has described quality assurance/control measures to ensure high quality and comparable data, with a view to uses in chemicals risk assessment and management. To increase the visibility of available sample collections and monitoring data from apex predators we developed accessible online database systems. Additionally, the acquired high-resolution mass spectrometric data were stored in a digital sample freezing platform that allows retrospective suspect screening in previously analysed samples for substances that may be of concern/under assessment in the future.

These databases provide open access to a wide range of chemical data, for use by regulators, researchers, industry and the general public, and contribute to a stronger link between science and policy.

doi: 10.1186/s12302-022-00664-6