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  • Developments and Applications of Environmental Specimen Banks for Monitoring Emerging Contaminants
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Andra Environmental Specimen Bank: archiving the environmental chemical quality for long-term monitoring


Andra Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) was established in 2010 as a part of the Perennial Observatory of the Environment (OPE), ongoing Long-Term Environmental Research Monitoring and Testing System located next to the Underground Research Laboratory (URL) at Bure, Meuse/Haute-Marne, France. The URL is used to study the deep geological disposal of high and intermediate level radioactive waste. Andra ESB is designed to archive during at least 100 years samples collected to define the initial state of environmental quality of the local area before the construction of industrial facilities and to ensure the traceability of long-term series of samples collected by the OPE (, using safe long-term conservation practices. Samples archived in the bank include some local food chain products (milk, cheese, honey, cereals, grass, cherry plum…) and specimen usually archived internationally to monitor the environmental quality (soil, sediment, water, fish, tree leaves, wild life, etc.). Regarding the different samples and analytical issues, three conservation modalities and facilities were designed: dry conservation under controlled temperature and humidity, cryopreservation in liquid nitrogen (LN2) vapor phase freezers (−150 °C) and in deep-freezing at −80 °C for temporary storage and raw samples before preparation. Andra ESB is equipped with a sample preparation clean room, certified ISO Class 5, dedicated to cryopreservation. This paper describes this first French experiment of long-term chemical quality monitoring and samples cryopreservation of different ecosystems and environmental compartments.

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Andra thanks the German ESB (Heinz Ruedel, Fraunhofer IME in Schmallenberg, Deutschland), the US Marine ESB (Paul Becker and Rebecca Pugh, NIST in Charleston, US), the project of Observatoire de Recherche sur la Qualité de l’Environnement (Olivier Donard, Emmanuel Tessier and David Point, ORQUE, IPREM, Pau, France), and INRA (INFOSOL, Claudy Jolivet, Orléans, France) for their assistance during the early stages of the project.

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Correspondence to Elisabeth Leclerc.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Leclerc, E., d’Arbaumont, M., Verron, J. et al. Andra Environmental Specimen Bank: archiving the environmental chemical quality for long-term monitoring. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 1568–1576 (2015).

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  • Environmental specimen bank
  • Monitoring
  • Pollutants
  • Cryogeny
  • Ecosystems
  • Forest
  • Agriculture
  • Human food chain
  • Quality assurance
  • Radioactivity
  • Chemicals