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Dear Colleagues,

One of the big milestones achieved recently was the preparation of the CF PFAS-Memorandum, which was first presented at the PFAS Conference on 1 December 2020 and can be downloaded at the CF-Webpage. Furthermore, CF commonly agreed comments to the Roadmap towards a new EU Soil Strategy were uploaded to the EC webpage on 10 December 2020.

As other good news of the declining year, we are pleased to announce that the Environment Agency Austria as an organisation stays available to host the upcoming 6th period of the COMMON FORUM secretariat. This was made possible with substantial support of the Austrian Ministry for Environment. Dietmar Müller-Grabherr will continue as general secretary for the next three years from 2021 until 2023.

This brings us to thank all Common Forum Members and guests for their support, dedication and commitment during the 5th secretariat period and especially during the tough year 2020 with all its restrictions, limitations and new formats.

Stay healthy, have peaceful holidays and a good start in 2021 which will hopefully bring back a better normality!

Martha and Dietmar


The PFAS-team under the lead of Jörg Frauenstein has published the PFAS-Memorandum. It was first introduced during the PFAS conference “Dealing with Contaminants of Emerging Concern” on 1 December 2020. The Memorandum builds on the results of a survey having inputs from 13 European countries, which are summarized in an accompanying side-paper (“PFAS – Comprehensive challenges within the end of pipe perspective”). Key messages and requirements highlighted by the PFAS-Memorandum were discussed and endorsed at a plenary meeting of COMMON FORUM network members.


Roadmap towards a new EU Soil Strategy

As agreed at the CF Web Meeting in October 2020, the COMMON FORUM Working Group ‘Soil as a Resource’, chaired by Co Molenaar and Margot de Cleen, has been mandated to follow the process towards the new EU Soil Strategy.

An online meeting was held on 20 November 2020 to discuss possible inputs and comments to the Roadmap. The feedback was assembled to a document with an annex summarizing discussions and comments. The COMMON FORUM inputs were uploaded to the EC webpage on 10 December 2020, where any stakeholder feedback (in total: 228 statements) is generally accessible via:


EEA-Eionet Strategy 2021-2030: Delivering data and knowledge to achieve Europe’s climate and environment ambitions

The EEA-Eionet Strategy 2021-2030 aims to provide the data and the knowledge needed to tackle environmental and climate challenges. The vision is ‘to enable a sustainable Europe through trusted and actionable knowledge for informed decision-making on environment and climate priorities and solutions, in line with Europe’s policy ambitions.

Together, the EEA and Eionet, will deliver actionable knowledge across five work areas, namely biodiversity and ecosystems; climate change mitigation and adaptation; human health and the environment (e.a. assessing the health impacts caused by soil pollution); circular economy and resource use; and sustainability trends, prospects and responses. Europe’s production sectors as well as consumption and production systems will be addressed through these five interlinked work areas


The EU Soil Observatory launched on Friday 4 December 2020

A proposed Horizon EU mission provides the blueprint for setting Europe on a path towards sustainable soil management. One of the proposed targets is to make sure that at least 75% of all European soils are in a healthy state by 2030. The new EU Soil Observatory (EUSO) launched in a meeting on 4 December 2020 will monitor the progress towards the achievement of these goals.

The meeting can be viewed in a Webstream.

Horizon 2020 – The European Green Deal Call

On September 17, the European Commission launched the €1 billion European Green Deal Call to boost the green and digital transition. The European Green Deal Call, the last and biggest Horizon 2020-funded, includes 8 thematic areas and 2 horizontal areas and is open for submissions until January 26, 2021. An info day and brokerage event for potential applicants and for stakeholders took place during the European Research and Innovation Days, on 23 and 24 September.


HCH in European Union

The European Parliament has asked the European Commission to start a dedicated project to improve the knowledge base on the presence and the waste management of lindane and hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) in the EU. One of the components is to establish an EU-wide inventory of HCH-contaminated sites

The first results of the EU wide inventory of potential HCH sites are now available and a preliminary draft report is under review. These initial results were presented within a webinar in order to gain input regarding locating all HCH sites within the EU.

Recording of the Webinar

Lindane video on YouTube

European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) - Newsletter

ESDAC Newsletter No.126 (September – December 2020) -

ESDAC Newsletter No.125 (September – November 2020) -

State of knowledge of soil biodiversity – Status, challenges and potentialities.
FAO, ITPS, GSBI, SCBD, and EC. 2020. Rome, FAO.

The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) and 100+ scientists contributed to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN report on the “State of Knowledge on Soil Biodiversity: Status, Challenges, and Potentialities” called for by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

There is increasing attention on the importance of biodiversity for food security and nutrition, especially above-ground biodiversity such as plants and animals. However, less attention is being paid to the biodiversity beneath our feet, soil biodiversity, which drives many processes that produce food or purify soil and water. The summary for policy makers presents concisely the state of knowledge on soil biodiversity, the threats to it and the solutions that soil biodiversity can provide to problems in different fields. This report is a valuable contribution to raising awareness of the importance of soil biodiversity and highlighting its role in finding solutions to today's global threats.

One of the major recommendations from the report is that soil remediation and ecosystem restoration plans need to include soil health and soil biodiversity considerations.


Launch of the new ICCL Homepage

Since middle of December 2020, the brand new ICCL homepage is online: with a new design and – most important – barrier-free. Have a look!


NICOLE envisaging 2021 & seasonal greetings by Johan de Fraye (NICOLE network chair)

In 2020, an Academic Sub-group was set up to generate a stronger exchange between the academic world and industry/service providers.

In 2021 NICOLE will have its silver jubilee. Thus, among others, the website and, by extension, the digital interaction with the sustainable land management community will receive an upgrade to make it a more interactive environment and a more useful tool for members.

Furthermore, it is intended to launch a foundation in 2021. The idea grew out of an initiative in the US - the Abundant Environment Foundation. The foundation would have a European focus and leverage the experience of the environmental professional community through volunteering and donations to work with selected NGOs to solve specific environmental issues.

Find the long version of the letter here.

New documents on EUGRIS, the platform for European contaminated soil and water information. Resources, events projects and news items added on EUGRIS can be viewed at: www.eugris.info/whatsnew.asp. Then select the appropriate month and year for the updates in which you are interested. However, here is a selection of new additions to EUGRIS in 2020 prepared by Paul Bardos (r3 Environmental Technology Ltd) for COMMON FORUM members.

EmConSoil-network newsletter

EmConSoil, a multi stakeholder network for emerging Soil Contaminants, has presented the first EmConSoil Newsletter. Every 6 weeks the latest insights, interesting news and initiatives and much more on CEC’s are shared.

If there is an interest to tell the network about the latest experiences or to announce upcoming events or simply feel the urge to share an interesting article - send an email to emconsoil@ovam.be!

Registration and find more info on the network and its goals can be found on the EmConSoil-network pages.

Permeable Reactive Barrier: cost-effective and sustainable groundwater remediation
Ravi Naidu, Dawit N. Bekele, and Volker Birke

The expert book on PRBs edited and published by Prof. Ravi Naidu, CRC CARE / University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia, and Prof. Volker Birke, Wismar University of Applied Sciences, Technology, Business and Design, Germany with CRC Press in 2015 is now available for free and can be downloaded:


MISSOURI (MIcroplasticS in Soil and grOUndwateR: sources, transfer, metrology and Impacts)

MISSOURI is a one-year European project funded by the SOILveR platform. MISSOURI responds to IRT14 call’s topic: Emerging contaminants’ in soil and groundwater – ensuring longterm provision of drinking water as well as soil and freshwater ecosystem services.

MISSOURI is a partnership between VU (Vrije Universiteit) in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), ISSeP (Belgium) and Ineris (France) and aims at answering research gaps in microplastics (MPs) characterization in terrestrial media. Its goal is to give a better understanding on the issue of MPs through a state-of-the-art review and an interlaboratory study of MPs in soils.

A research survey has been initiated as part of the project’s launch as it aims at collecting concerns and expectations of a wide range of persons: from producers, users, researchers, to associations. Together with the results of the project, it will be used as a compass to propose future actions for decision-makers. Its results will be presented during a workshop closing the project, planned during the 2nd semester of 2021.

Please click on this Link for the survey.

EiCLaR EU/China research project

EiCLaR (Enhanced In Situ Bioremediation for Contaminated Land Remediation), as an EU/China consortium, will develop scientific and technical innovations for in situ bioremediation technologies that will be directly developed into industrial processes for the rapid efficient costeffective treatment of a range of environmental pollutants such as chlorinated solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, etc. These technologies (electro-nanobioremediation, innovative bioaugmentation, bioelectrochemical remediation, enhanced phytoremediation) will enable bioremediation approaches to expand their range of applications to industrial sites and waters that contain complex, high concentration pollutant mixtures.

This project will move our proof-of-concept level advances to industrial commercial processes through laboratories studies to refine the processes and to explore the scientific base and scaleup techniques and field demonstrations. Our recent advances in nanobioremediation will be enhanced by studies of the critical microbial component and the use of electrochemical processes to increase the degradation rate and biocatalyst lifetime. The innovative bioaugmentation is based on a recently discovered bacteria capable of degrading some chlorinated solvents efficiently under aerobic conditions.

The Bioelectrochemical system will speed up the anaerobic degradation of pollutants when aeration is not feasible. The enhanced phytoremediation will benefit from the synergistic effect of fungi and electrokinetic nutrient dispersion. These environmental sustainable and low impact depollution methods will provide service companies with the tools to manage contaminated soil and water and improve environmental quality at over a million sites throughout Europe and China. These companies will be able to grow by increased personnel and revenue while improving biodiversity and reducing environmental risks.

The start of the EiCLaR project is 1 January 2021.

German Guidelines for PFAS assessment

The draft version of these recommendations for the uniform nationwide assessment of soil and water contamination and for the disposal of soil material containing PFAS was published in December 2020. These guidelines provide an assessment framework as well as background information of relevance to evaluations. Their primary purpose is to assist enforcement agencies in their assessment of PFAS inputs into waters and soil.

A chapter on analyses compiles the range of substances, the analytical methods and the production of eluates for soil analyses. The chapter on assessment criteria and instructions for use considers water (ground, surface and wastewater), sewage sludge / fertilisers and soilpathway-related risk assessment.


Remediation management for local and wide-spread PFAS contaminations

PFAS -as group of substances- are becoming increasingly important in the treatment of contaminated sites and harmful soil changes. The present work aid "Remediation management for local and area-wide PFAS contaminations" by the German Environment Agency supports the responsible authorities in the pre-selection, evaluation and decision for a suitable and proportionate remediation procedure, shows relevant basic conditions and accompanying measures. Due to the different substance properties of PFAS, the possible remediation procedures must also be evaluated on a substance-specific basis. The advantages and disadvantages, the technical and approval requirements as well as their sustainability are shown for the possible remediation methods.


What Matters 1-2020: PFAS - Came to stay.

In its 1-2020 issue of the Magazine of the German Environment Agency, UBA looks at PFAS: per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances. There are a total of 4,700 different substances, the effects of which on humans and the environment are largely unresearched. PFAS are very durable and mobile. They are distributed across the globe by wind and water and accumulate in water, soil and living organisms - including humans. The What Matters magazine looks at these questions: What exactly are PFAS? How are they used? How do they get into the environment? And what can be done about the substances?


PFAS Conference 2020 can be viewed online

The informative and inspirational November 30 to December 1 international PFAS conference, Dealing with Contaminants of Emerging Concern, jointly organised by the German Environment Agency and the German Ministry for the Environment, can be viewed at www.bmu.de/pfas until the end of 2020.

Laboratory-scale and pilot-scale stabilization and solidification (S/S) remediation of soil contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)
Sörengård, M., P. Gago-Ferrero, D.B. Kleja, and L. Ahrens.
Journal of Hazardous Materials, Volume 402, 15 January 2021, 123453

S/S treatment was evaluated at pilot-scale using six tons of soil contaminated with PFAScontaining aqueous film-forming foam. The test simulated 6 years of precipitation to see how much PFAS would be removed from the various treated and untreated media. PFAS removal rate from leachate was >97 % for PFHxA, PFOA, PFHxS, and PFOS, but 3% for short-chain PFPeA. While PFAS sorption strength increased 2- to 40-fold for both reference and S/S-treated soil in the pilot test compared to lab-scale tests, PFAS behavior in both tests was generally wellcorrelated. Seven PFASs were tentatively identified using an automated suspect screening approach. Among these, perfluorohexanesulfonamide and 3:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (<12% removal rates from leachate) were tentatively identified.


PFAS in New Zealand

New Zealand has established a National PFAS Programme (All-of-Government Programm AoG), led by the Ministry for the Environment, is overseeing and co-ordinating the response to Per-and poly-Fluorinated Alkly Substances (PFAS) contamination in NZ.

PFAS in New Zealand

At the moment, a Draft guidance to assist with the establishment of nationally consistent sampling protocols is underway:

Sampling and Analysis of Per-and Poly-fluorinated Substances

International workshop on Emerging policy challenges on New SOil contaminants (ENSOr) 2021

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2021 edition of the ENSOr workshop will be held as an online event from 6 - 7 May 2021. During this 3rd edition we will broaden our horizons and include system approaches.

The event will consist of a multitude of online live sessions during which -for this edition- we will (in addition to PFAS) also try to broaden our view towards other (diffuse) contaminants, such as pesticides, hormones, microplastics and so on. In addition to new insights on the challenges of emerging contaminants, we also welcome topics that explore how to tackle emerging contaminants in systemic solution oriented frameworks, such as soil care and land stewardship.

The call for abstracts is open until 31 January 2021

We look for contributions on subjects from the whole spectrum of emerging soil and groundwater contaminants which are related to policy frameworks and giving new insights in:

  • mapping and monitoring (point sources & diffuse sources), data, analytical methods,...
  • exposure modelling, risk assessment, threshold values, mixture toxicity,...
  • management and treatment (remediation techniques, nature based solutions, information management and usage advice, ...)
  • solution scenarios integrated in systemic approaches, e.g. for management of excavated soils, fostering multi-stakeholder involvement (showcase projects, living labs,...).

AquaConSoil 2021

International Conference for Sustainable Use and Management of Soil, Sediment and Water Resources will be held online from 14 – 18 June 2021. The call for abstracts is open until 14 February 2021.

Contact: aquaconsoil@deltares.nl

See all announcements on COMMON FORUM website

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