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Open Access Discussion

The NORMAN Network and its activities on emerging environmental substances with a focus on effect-directed analysis of complex environmental contamination

Werner Brack1*, Valeria Dulio2 and Jaroslav Slobodnik3

Author Affiliations

1 Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany

2 INERIS, National Institute for Environment and Industrial Risks, Verneuil-en-Halatte, France

3 Environmental Institute, Kos, Slovak Republic

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Environmental Sciences Europe 2012, 24:29  doi:10.1186/2190-4715-24-29

Published: 17 October 2012

Abstract

The need to look beyond the conventional target pollutants when assessing the hazards of chemicals to human health and to ecosystems is now generally recognised as a priority issue in all environmental policy areas at both the European level and national level in the various countries. It has also become clear that it is not possible for individual countries alone to develop the knowledge and methodologies needed for measuring and evaluating the effects and associated risks of a vast number of emerging pollutants. Further to these priority needs, the NORMAN project ( http://www.norman-network.net webcite) was funded in 2005 by the European Commission in order to promote the creation of a permanent network among reference laboratories and research centres, in collaboration with the parties involved (industry, standardisation bodies, NGOs, etc.), to ensure (i) a more rapid and wide-scope exchange of data and information on the occurrence and effects of emerging substances, (ii) better data quality and comparability via validation and harmonisation of common measurement methods (chemical and biological) and monitoring tools, (iii) more transparent information (need for information, not just data) and (iv) the establishment of an independent and competent forum for the technical/scientific debate on issues related to emerging substances. NORMAN plays a significant role as an interface organisation between science and policy, with the advantage of speaking with a “bigger voice” to the European Commission and other public institutions. The activities of the network range from a scientific watch and the feeding of data on emerging substances into NORMAN databases (information gateway on emerging pollutants) to the organisation of working groups and workshops (producing position papers on research priorities), the setting-up of interlaboratory studies and the organisation of measurement campaigns. This article presents the objectives and scope of the activities of the NORMAN network, together with a summary of its concrete achievements after six years of existence. Moreover, the article gives a special insight in the work done by the NORMAN Working Group on effect-directed analysis for the identification of hazardous pollutants.

Keywords:
Emerging substances; Effect-directed analysis; Monitoring