Plastic pollution assessment and monitoring - standardising the methods EUROqCHARM

pieces of plastic and bottle caps between rocks

WHAT is the EUROqCHARM project's aim?

The EUROqCHARM consortium wants to analyze and evaluate existing methodologies for plastic pollution assessment, and harmonize them on a European level. That is why the project unites 15 key actors involved in studying and monitoring plastic pollution in Europe.

WHY was this project called to life?

Plastic pollution is a well-known global issue manifesting itself in the form of beach litter, ocean garbage patches, microplastics in food, plastic dust particles in the air,... the list goes on. A well-thought-out action plan and robust strategies for combatting this issue are high on the agenda of European policymakers. However, if we want to succeed in achieving this kind of EU-wide integrated strategy, the first step is to make sure that methods, methodologies, and common practices for sampling, analysis, and reporting are 1) up to date and 2) not as divergent depending on what country is executing the research as they are now.

HOW do we hope to achieve our goals?

The necessary developments require the engagement and collaboration of researchers AND various stakeholders with a thorough understanding of the complexity arising from the wide array of polymer types and particle sizes dispersed in water, sediment and air. To this end, the EUROqCHARM initiative brings together all relevant research areas (natural sciences: marine, surface, groundwater, drinking and waste water, soil, air, analytical chemistry, etc.), industry (instrument manufacturers, plastic producers and commercial laboratories), regulators (United Nations, EU and national level, standardization bodies), professional associations and societies, policymakers (UN, EU and national level) and national and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). This puts Europe in a unique position to coordinate the validation of the available methods and the development of harmonized protocols for assessing plastic contamination.

The goal of the European EUROqCHARM (EUROpean quality Controlled Harmonization Assuring Reproducible Monitoring and assessment of
plastic pollution) project is to establish harmonised methodologies for the monitoring and assessment of macro-, micro- and nanoplastics in the environment, as well as blueprints for standards and recommendations for policy and legislation.

In short EUROqCHARM is:

  • a consortium with 15 EU partners
  • putting forward a multi-stakeholder approach
  • to develop cost-effective monitoring strategies
  • focusing on all environmental compartments: water, soil/sediment, air, and biota
  • targeting a broad size spectrum of plastics (nano-, micro-, macro-)

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