Special Sessions 2018-03-15T10:15:33+00:00

Special Sessions

The Scientific Committee has scheduled a series of Special Sessions that put the overarching theme of the conference, “Responsible and Innovative Research for Environmental Quality”, into practice. The key to successful and efficient environmental quality management will hinge upon transdisciplinary collaboration between environmental and human toxicologists, environmental chemists, and scientists and policy-makers from a diversity of disciplines, such as conservation biology, ecology, human health, aquaculture, sociology, law, and economy.

Thursday, 17 May | 8:30a.m.–10:05 a.m. | Session Room Q

Jan Koschorreck, UBA, Germany | Sara Danielsson, The Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden

Environmental specimen banks (ESBs) systematically store high quality samples from the environment and human populations in support of chemicals management and innovative research for a better environmental quality. ESBs are operated by environment agencies as part of the national long-term environmental research infrastructure or by environmental research institutes. There is a large potential to make better use of ESB samples in research and chemicals regulation.

ESB sampling is already ongoing for up to 50 years at regular intervals in the freshwater, marine and/or the terrestrial compartment. Some ESBs also sample human populations. ESB operations are guided by strict protocols for sampling, processing and archiving. The samples are stored at low or ultra-low temperatures in the archives which provides for their long-term biological and chemical integrity.

There are around 30 ESBs in the world, of which around 20 are located in Europe. The specimens are used to monitor the quality of the environment and the efficacy of regulatory efforts to control known hazardous substances like metals, PAHs, PBDEs, dioxins and other organochlorines. However, the main objective of ESBs is retrospective analysis of chemicals of emerging concern (CECs): ESB samples allow for spatio-temporal analysis of substances which were unknown, not known to be hazardous or not analytically detectable at the time of sampling. Recent examples are new PFAS, new flame retardants, chlorinated paraffins, nanomaterials and pharmaceuticals.

The systematic use of high quality ESB data and samples has the potential to significantly increase our understanding of the fate of regulated and non-regulated contaminants in the environment. ESB data are already being used to some extent to identify persistent organic pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm Convention and potential persistent and bioaccumulative compounds in REACH legislation. However, consistent and interdisciplinary approaches that make better use of high quality ESB samples can overcome the reluctant use of monitoring data in chemicals risk assessment.

The application of cutting edge analytical methods to ESB samples is a win-win situation for the value of ESB samples and our understanding of the quality of the environment. For example, Non-Target Screening is a promising tool that will add significant data on the temporal occurrence of chemicals in ecosystems. Some archived samples are now also used for barcoding and meta-barcoding approaches of environmental eDNA revealing temporal changes in biodiversity and offering interdisciplinary links to this research area. Furthermore, banked environmental and human samples can be incentives for interdisciplinary and integrated exposure assessments.

This ESB session has the aim to discuss interdisciplinary applications for ESB samples and to initiate collaborations with environmental scientists and regulators in the field of long-term environmental quality monitoring.


8:30 a.m. Introduction
8:35 a.m. Monitoring of POPs in the Swedish aquatic ecosystem and in human milk (Elisabeth Nyberg, The Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden)
8:50 a.m. Jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire? Spatial and temporal trends for PBDE, Dechlorane Plus and alternative flame retardants in samples of the German environmental specimen bank (Annekatrin Dreyer, Eurofins GfA GmbH, Germany)
9:05 a.m. New Uses of Archived Specimens from the U.S.A. NIST Marine Environmental Specimen Bank (Rebecca Pugh, National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA)
9:20 a.m. Monitoring of the indoor environment of ESB laboratories with selected target and non-target screening methods (Pernilla Bohlin Nizzetto, Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Norway)
9:35 a.m. DNA banking and its relevance for biodiversity research (Jonas Astrin, Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Germany)
9:50 a.m. Discussion on environmental specimen banking in research and regulation
10:05 a.m. End

Wednesday 16 May | 8:30 a.m.–10:05 a.m. | Session Room Q

Maria Cristina Fossi, University of Siena, Italy | Gaetano Leone, UNEP/Mediterranean Action Plan, Greece | Francesco Degli Innocenti, Novamont S.p.A., Italy

This special session fits in the general scope of the SETAC Rome meeting (“Responsible and Innovative Research for Environmental Quality”) and deals with the general problem of plastic litter, but with particular regard the Mediterranean area where the meeting will be held, with a special focus on a multi-stakeholders approach. The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most affected areas by marine litter in the world. Plastics and other polymer materials are the most common types of marine litter, representing some 80% of litter found. As larger pieces of plastic debris fragment into smaller pieces, the abundance of microplastics (plastic fragments smaller than 5 mm) in marine habitats increases; 115.000-1.050.000 particles/km2 are estimated to float in the Mediterranean Sea (Fossi et al 2012; UNEP/MAP, 2015; Suaria et al., 2017). The marine litter problem in the Mediterranean is exacerbated by the basin’s limited exchanges with other oceans, highly developed coastal tourism, densely populated coasts, busy offshore waters (with 30% of the world’s maritime traffic), waste disposal sites often located close to the coast; high temperatures accelerating litter degradation into secondary products that are difficult to collect or treat; and inputs of litter from very urbanized areas and large rivers. Marine litter and in particular floating plastic have been found in the Mediterranean Sea in comparable quantities to those found in the five oceanic garbage patches. In this respect, recent studies based on global models have proposed the Mediterranean Sea as the sixth greatest accumulation zone for marine litter. Marine litter and in particular plastic fragments and microplastics’ impact on marine biota is mainly attributed to plastic ingestion: a number of plastic additives have been found in considerable concentrations in endangered marine mammals. Bigger marine litter items, like plastic bags, are a proven threat for sea turtles and especially for the endangered species Caretta caretta.

Despite the recent advances made within the framework of the Barcelona Convention Regional Plan for Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Descriptor 10), there is still a long way ahead to tackle marine litter in the Mediterranean and reduce the risks posed to Mediterranean marine wildlife. In line with the urgent need to act at a regional level, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (all Mediterranean riparian countries and the EU) agreed on a Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean. The regional plan, which is the first legally binding regional instrument, aims to minimize marine litter presence and its impacts in the Mediterranean. It also specifies in its Article 18 that its implementation necessitates cooperation among regional partners and actors.

This special session envisages to showcase the Mediterranean answer to the global problem of marine litter and as such share experience on how Academy, Industry, Governance actors and different key regional stakeholders in their various capacities can work together in a coordinated manner to address Mediterranean marine litter management.


8:30 a.m. Introduction
8:35 a.m. Harmful effects of plastic litter on Mediterranean Biodiversity: what and what’s new? (Maria Cristina Fossi, University of Siena, Italy)
8:47 a.m. Impact of marine litter in the Mediterranean Sea: monitoring and specific reduction measures within MSFD (Francois Galgani, Ifremer, France)
8:57 a.m. Addressing the growing threat of marine litter: NGOs essential role in strengthening the science-policy-society interface (Thomie Vlachogianni, Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE), Greece)
9:11 a.m. Biodegradable plastics: potential application in aquaculture and other applications at high risk of dispersion (Francesco Degli Innocenti, Novamont S.p.A., Italy)
9:23 a.m. Marine Litter Governance in the Mediterranean through the implementation of the Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean (Gaetano Leone, UNEP/Mediterranean Action Plan, Greece)
9:35 a.m. Science and awareness: a Mediterranean Connection Against Marine Litter. First Results of the Commitment Presented at UN Ocean Conference (Giorgio Zampetti, Legambiente, Italy)
9:47 a.m. Discussion
9:57 a.m. Final Remarks (Gaetano Leone, UNEP/Mediterranean Action Plan, Greece)
10:05 a.m. End

Monday 14 May | 8:30 a.m.–10:05 a.m. | Session Room Q

Lucia Toniolo, Politecnico di Milano, Italy | Rocco Mazzeo, University of Bologna, Italy

The contribution of chemistry and material science to the knowledge, conservation and monitoring of Cultural Heritage is relevant and well established in the scientific community. Artefacts and polychrome artefacts, historical buildings and archaeological heritage are complex material systems subjected to continuous stress deriving from aggressive environmental conditions and climate change with increasing kinetic of deterioration processes. The conservation and enhancement and exploitation of the huge world heritage deserves attention and needs innovative materials and technical solutions, besides a great research effort for the development of a new consciousness of the society. Climate change and pollution threats are difficult to face and control, while new nanomaterials are proposed and used in different areas, without an appropriate set-up and evaluation of the connected risks. The European Commission is aware of the importance of this Societal Challenge and of the determinant impact of Cultural Heritage for the formation and development of the European citizenship. The Special Session would like to present the main responses given by the research in Europe with an overview of the main problems and innovation opportunities in the field of safeguard of Cultural properties. The new European infrastructure E-RIHS (Research Infrastructure Heritage Science), under the Italian guidance and leadership, will be presented in details during the session.


8:30 a.m. Introduction
8:35 a.m. Cultural Heritage and Climate Change: impact and adaptation (Cristina Sabbioni, CNR-ISAC -Istituto di Scienze dell’Atmosfera e del Clima, Italy)
9:05 a.m. Nanotechnologies for the conservation and connected risks (Maria Mosquera, University of Cadiz, Spain)
9:35 a.m. Towards the European Research Infrastructure in Heritage Science: E-RIHS (Luca Pezzati, CNR-Istituto Nazionale di Ottica, Italy)
9:55 a.m. Discussion & Conclusions
10:05 a.m. End

Tuesday 15 May | 8:30a.m.–3:30 a.m. | Session Room Q

  • Werner Brack, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany
  • Rolf Altenburger, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany
  • Jos van Gils, Deltares, Netherlands
  • John Munthe, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Sweden

High quality freshwater resources are a key requirement for sustainable development in Europe, safe drinking water production and for the protection of aquatic ecosystems and their biodiversity, including downstream transitional and marine waters. While the Water Framework Directive defines a holistic ecological status to monitor and assess the quality of aquatic ecosystems, chemical status is defined in a very traditional way focusing on 45 so-called Priority Pollutants. Such regulatory approach based on maximum concentrations of individual substances in receiving water, sediments or biota may have advantages for commonly occurring pollutants with well-known toxicological properties but may have disadvantages concerning all the non-regulated (emerging) pollutants, the unknown substances, the unknown toxicological effects as well as any combination effect of mixtures. At the same time, compliance monitoring for all the priority pollutants may not represent the most efficient environmental management strategy considering occurrence of many substances frequently below the detection limits. A recent study in the process towards a non-toxic environment led by the European Commission highlights several environmental management issues and recommendations, i.e.,

  • Improved identification and tracking of all substances meeting the criteria for SVHCs and including very persistent substances as well as substances of concern meeting other endpoints not yet adequately addressed, e.g., endocrine disrupters, neurotoxins, immunotoxins, and developmental toxins.
  • Additional hazard identification and risk assessment processes that allow for more rapid screening and identification of potential chemicals of concern and that can cope more efficiently with the huge numbers of existing chemicals as well as the ever increasing numbers of new chemicals being invented and placed on the market;

Enormous scientific and technological progress has been achieved that leaves the restriction of chemical status assessment to consideration of only a few chemicals unnecessary. Effect-based and multi- and non-target chemical screening and European databases open new horizons for holistic monitoring. Pattern analysis offers scope to identify mixtures of concern related to specific sources and effects. New experimental and multivariate approaches could help to link (emerging) chemicals and mixtures to adverse effects and provide new tools for prioritization. Moreover, high-throughput integrated modeling is becoming capable to predict emissions, fate and transport, and exposure of and risks to aquatic ecosystems and human health for thousands of chemicals and all of Europe’s rivers. Increasing knowledge on the efficiency of abatement options and packages thereof, exploited by integrated modeling, helps to find tailor-made solutions to minimize chemical footprints and toxic risks.

The proposed interdisciplinary session is fully in line with the goal of the conference “Responsible and innovative research for environmental quality” by presenting major innovation in holistic chemical quality status assessment. The session will demonstrate how the integration and mutual validation of such approaches could open new opportunities to achieve a non-toxic environment, and thus to address the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) defined by the UN. The session invites and will bring together experts in effect-based monitoring, analytical chemistry, mixture assessment, exposure and effect modeling, abatement measures and science-policy interfacing, following the goal to address chemical contamination and toxic risks in European water resources as a whole. The session chairs will put specific efforts into the integration of European and national regulators and experts from industry and NGOs to maximize the impact of the new ideas. The contributions to this session are expected to range from technical innovation and cutting edge research via demonstration up to new ideas on implementation, decision making and regulation. The session will also provide space for the discussion of knowledge gaps and research needs, and will attempt to suggest elements for a forward-looking European research agenda.


8:30 a.m. Introduction
8:35 a.m. Multiple exposure to pesticides and other emerging pollutants – problems and solutions for healthy ecosystems and humans (Manfred Santen, Greenpeace e.V., Germany)
8:50 a.m. Benefits of international Science & Policy cooperation to promote a paradigm shift in water quality and safety assessment framework (Milou Dingemans, KWR Watercycle Research Institute, Netherlands)
9:05 a.m. Chemicals of emerging concern (CEC) in the water cycle – a regulatory perspective (Manuela Helmecke, UBA, Germany)
9:20 a.m. Non-target Screening for Holistic Chemical Monitoring and Compound Discovery: Open Science, Real-time and Retrospective Approaches (Emma Schymanski, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg)
9:35 a.m. Toxicological profiling of water samples with in vitro bioassays and assessment using effect-based trigger values (Beate Escher, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany)
9:50 a.m. Chemical gene interactions for associating contaminants with biological effects (Anthony Schroeder, University of Minnesota-Crookston, USA)
10:50 a.m. Introduction
10:55 a.m. Linking chemical pollution and effects – How to identify drivers of toxicity? (Werner Brack, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany)
11:10 a.m. Toxic mixtures in time-the sequence makes the poison (Roman Ashauer, University of York, UK)
11:25 a.m. How to deal with mixtures of pollutants in water resource management? (Rolf Altenburger, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany)
11:40 a.m. A mixture risk assessment for pollutants that reach humans via the water – fish exposure route (Andreas Kortenkamp, Brunel University London, UK)
11:55 a.m. An Advanced Methodological Framework for the Identification of Priority Pollutants and Priority Mixtures of Pollutants in European Freshwaters (Michael Faust, Faust & Backhaus Environmental Consulting, Germany)
12:10 p.m.  A diagnostic toolbox for ecological effects of pollutant mixtures: a case study application using in situ experiments with microbial communities (Thomas Backhaus, University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
12:25 p.m. Lunch and Poster Viewing
1:55 p.m. Introduction
2:00 p.m.  High-throughput exposure and risk modelling of chemicals in European river basins (Jos van Gils, Deltares, Netherlands)
2:15 p.m.  Forward-looking on possible impacts of chemical pollution: Modelling lethal and sublethal effects of chemical exposure on population viability for aquatic macroinvertebrates (Andreas Focks, Alterra Wageningen University and Research Centre, Netherlands)
2:30 p.m.  Eco-epidemiology of aquatic ecosystems: aligning chemical and ecological status (Leo Posthuma, RIVM, Netherlands)
2:45 p.m.  Unravelling the cocktail of stress: toxics and other stressors impacting on the ecological status of Europe’s rivers (Sebastian Birk, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)
3:00 p.m.  Mitigation options for chemicals of emerging concern in surface waters- operationalizing solutions-focused risk assessment (Annemarie van Wezel, KWR Watercycle Research Institute, Netherlands)
3:15 p.m. Future perspectives of chemical pollution and regulatory development (John Munthe, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Sweden)
3:30 p.m. End
Monday 14 May | 10:50 a.m.–12:25 p.m. | Session Room Q

  • Patricia Navarra, ENEL, Italy
  • Paolo Masoni, Ecoinnovazione srl, Italy

Sustainable Development Goals, to be achieved by 2030, have been approved in 2015 in the Agenda for the Sustainable Development by the member states of the United Nations. They are 17 goals, 168 targets and more than 200 indicators. The ambition and complexity of Agenda 2030 requires a strong involvement and commitment of all components of the society: business, public sector, academia and research centers, cultural operators and associations.

In 2012, SETAC approved the Berlin Declaration on Sustainability as a basis for its engagement towards the sustainability. Moreover, SETAC, together with the United Nation Environment, promotes and leads the Life Cycle Initiative, a public-private, multi-stakeholder partnership enabling the global use of credible life cycle knowledge by private and public decision makers, to identify possible tradeoffs and avoiding problem shifting. Its mission is to bring Life Cycle Thinking to the mindsets of decision makers with the practical knowledge and tools to enhance the sustainability of their decisions, as a basis for supporting governments and businesses in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Purpose of this special session is to provide SETAC members with a clear picture of the general context from the different perspectives of business, government and academia. Ambition of the special session is to help each participant in better understanding how her/his personal work can contribute to the overarching sustainable developing goals.


10:50 a.m. Introduction
10:55 a.m. Can the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals be the drivers to change the world? (Enrico Giovannini, AsviS, Italy)
11:10 a.m. How the SDGs are being addressed in Horizon 2020 (Marialuisa Tamborra, European Commission – DG Research and Innovation, Belgium)
11:25 a.m. Examples of EU projects related to SDGs (Marco Recchioni, European Commission – EASME, Belgium)
11:40 a.m. Why SDGs are relevant for a large enterprise (Andrea Valcalda, ENEL, Italy)
11:55 a.m. Conclusions (Elisa Tonda, UN Environment, France)
12:10 p.m. Questions & Answers
12:25 p.m. End