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  • Developments and Applications of Environmental Specimen Banks for Monitoring Emerging Contaminants
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The use of monitoring data in EU chemicals management—experiences and considerations from the German environmental specimen bank

Abstract

Since the 1970s, environmental specimen banks (ESB) have emerged in many countries. Their highly standardised sampling and archiving strategies make them a valuable tool in tracing time trends and spatial distributions of chemicals in ecosystem compartments. The present article intends to highlight the potential of ESBs for regulatory agencies in the European Union (EU). The arguments are supported by examples of retrospective monitoring studies conducted under the programme of the German ESB. These studies have evaluated the success of regulatory and industry provisions for substances of concern (i.e. PCB, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, perfluorinated compounds, alkylphenol compounds, organotin compounds, triclosan/methyl-triclosan, musk fragrances). Time trend studies revealed for example that levels of organotin compounds in marine biota from German coastal waters decreased significantly after the EU had decided on a total ban of organotin-based antifoulings in 2003. Similarly, concentrations of commercially relevant congeners of polybrominated diphenyl ethers decreased in herring gull eggs from the North Sea only after an EU-wide ban in 2004. The data presented demonstrate the usefulness of ESB samples for (retrospective) time trend monitoring and underline the benefit of a more intensive cooperation between chemicals management and specimen banking.

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Acknowledgement

The authors acknowledge the excellent work of the ESB team at Umweltbundesamt and of the long-term partner groups at Trier University, Eurofins GFA Lab Service GmbH and Fraunhofer IME.

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Correspondence to Jan Koschorreck.

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Koschorreck, J., Heiss, C., Wellmitz, J. et al. The use of monitoring data in EU chemicals management—experiences and considerations from the German environmental specimen bank. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 1597–1611 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-2897-5

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Keywords

  • Biota monitoring
  • Chemicals management
  • Environmental specimen bank
  • LOESS smoother
  • Retrospective monitoring
  • Time trends