Assessing Environmental Persistence

Persistence WS cover
Organised in collaboration with

UK Environment Agency and Federal Environment Agency of Germany


ECETOC has been actively involved in developing the scientific understanding of factors that affect the persistence of chemicals in the environment for over 15 years. In 2007, ECETOC and the Environment Agency (EA) of England and Wales co-hosted a Workshop on “Biodegradation and Persistence“ at Holmes Chapel in the United Kingdom. Attendees, from academia, regulatory agencies and industry discussed the challenges and uncertainty faced with persistency assessments at the screening and confirmatory testing level. The following recommendations made during the workshop have been acted upon:

  • Development of a validation set of chemicals for biodegradation research (funded by CEFIC/LRi and completed in 2010);

  • Development of new persistency screening tools with biodegradation studies using enhanced biomass levels (funded by CEFIC/LRi and due for completion in 2012);

  • Demonstrating the environmental significance of microbial adaptation (funded assigned by CEFIC/LRi in 2011);

  • Measuring biodegradation half-lives and identifying sources of variability and uncertainty (funded by CEFIC/LRi and project due to begin in 2012);

  • Addressing the uncertainty associated with bound residues or non-extractable residues formed in higher tiered persistency assessments. This resulted in a subsequent ECETOC Workshop (ECETOC 2009) and two current ECETOC Task Forces.

Objectives of the Workshop

It is now considered to be the right time for a further workshop to: (i) discuss and evaluate the progress and any scientific advances made as a consequence of the activities initiated as a result of the 2007 Holmes Chapel workshop, (ii) discuss other scientific developments within the field of persistence, and (iii) learn from the chemical industry and environmental regulators‘ experience of persistency assessments conducted within the initial phases of REACH.

The technical programme will address the following themes through a combination of invited and submitted keynote presentations (using case study measured data where possible) and syndicate sessions:

  • Regulatory efforts to harmonise persistency criteria and its evaluation across the EU.

  • Validation of biodegradability tests for persistency evaluation and the development of appropriate quality assurance/ quality control standards.

  • Effective prioritization of persistence at the screening level including the role of QSBRs, modified and enhanced (ready) biodegradation tests.

  • Biodegradability assessments with “difficult to test‘ substances.

  • Assessment of non-extractable residues associated with sludge, soils and sediments within high tiered studies.

  • Predication, detection, identification and evaluation of degradation products.

  • Microbial adaptation and its relevance to exposure and persistency assessment.

The key objectives of the workshop will be to:

a) identify whether/how the programmes initiated as a consequence of the Holmes Chapel Workshop have helped further the understanding of biodegradation/persistence related issues

b) identify and prioritise key areas for further future research

Participation by invitation only.

Scientific Secretary to the workshop: Malyka Galay-Burgos

Administrative Assistant: Sonia Pulinckx