Tuesday, 06 July 2021 11:22

New Flagship leaders within PA Hazards!

Written by  Eva Iveroth, PA Coordinator 'Hazards'

The year 2021 has been an exciting for PA Hazards as we have welcomed one new flagship project and two new flagship leaders into our organization, writes PA Coordinator Eva Iveroth.

 

Platform to decrease the harmful and toxic PFAS pollution

In February 2021 the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL AB) started the Baltic Sea PFAS Network, a platform that aims to connect a variety of stakeholders to decrease the harmful and often toxic PFAS pollution into the environment in the Baltic Sea region.

The Baltic Sea PFAS Network works with knowledge sharing, experience transfer and networking opportunities within the field of PFAS usage and management as well as removal techniques. The network aims to contribute to policy proposals, circulate information through regular meetings, newsletters and its website, organize workshops and conferences, and promote platform members’ activities and publications.

 

 

The Baltic Sea PFAS Network is a continuation of a Baltic Leadership program on PFAS (BLP PFAS) initiated and funded by PA Hazards and the Swedish Institute (SI). As PFAS has been a focus area for PA Hazards for several years we are excited to see IVL take on this ambitious and timely flagship project and we wish them the best of luck!

For more information on the PFAS Network, their upcoming activities and events visit their website or contact the platform leaders This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at IVL. The network is open to join for anyone interested in the field, no fee required. 

 

New leader for Baltic Sea Pharma platform 

Other exciting news is that the Finnish environment institute (SYKE) has taken over the leadership for the Baltic Sea Pharma platform (BSR Pharma). This flagship project aims at  reducing emissions of pharmaceuticals to the Baltic environment and brings together projects and stakeholders from the whole region to assist knowledge-sharing, increase effectiveness, streamlining of activities and support regional policy development on the topic.

The platform was developed within PA Hazards and we as PAC organization (The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency) have led the project since it was launched in 2017, however we are now thrilled that BSR Pharma has found a new home and we are confident that SYKE will be able to launch the full potential of the platform.

 

 

To reactivate the network and ensure the platform’s relevance SYKE has circulated a questionnaire to previous platform members, giving them an opportunity to influence the future of the platform. During the summer 2021 SYKE will launch a platform newsletter and later during the fall SYKE plans to arrange a seminar or workshop.

If you are interested in learning more about the platform please contact Lauri Äystö and Noora Perkola, who are leading the platform, through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. A new BSR Pharma platform website is under development and will be officially launched in August, but if you are curious you can check out the raw version of the website here. The network is open to join for anyone interested in the field, no fee required.

 

A Report published in the context of BSR Pharma

Background to pharmaceuticals as contaminants of emerging concern

Pharmaceutical residues have been identified to pose an environmental risk both in the Baltic Sea Region and globally and are increasingly being recognized as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). The use of pharmaceuticals is increasing worldwide due to factors such as an increasing and aging population with increased access to new pharmaceuticals, as well as high usage for treatment of animals in food production systems.

Despite the positive impacts of health for treated individuals, increasing amounts of pharmaceutical residues are found in the environment. A growing number of studies report that residues of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals have been found in aquatic and terrestrial environments worldwide where the substances and their transformation products, due to their often persistent and sometimes toxic and bioaccumulating traits, can pose an increased risk to the environment and thus the health of ecosystems and species.

Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is considered one of the most critical global health concerns today. Besides the toll on human and animal health, cumulative economic costs of AMR are predicted to exceed fifty trillion dollars a year by 2050. While AMR has been considered from a clinical perspective since the deployment of penicillin, the link between pharmaceutical residues and AMR dissemination is only recently being highlighted. Various governmental bodies have been set up to reduce the levels of pollutants in the environment, improve water and ground treatment, and tackle the anthropogenic contributions to AMR. Despite this, it is still unclear if AMR can be classed as a pollutant primarily due to its dubious classification, often as natural chemical derivatives

Antibiotics and antimicrobials are a prerequisite for modern healthcare and animal health but are increasingly also becoming a health risk.

The presence of microorganisms that are resistant to antibiotics is a potential route of exposure to AMR for both humans, animals, and the environment. Although this phenomenon can occur naturally through adaption of the microorganisms to the environment, the increase of AMR has been accelerated because of systematic misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in combination with inadequate preventive measures and the spread of infections, contributing to the global emergence and spread of AMR.

Despite increasing evidence that AMR is driven by the total volume of antimicrobials used, and increased measures to restrict use of antibiotics in veterinary and healthcare clinics, the consumption for both human health and animal health/food production has continued to increase globally. The use of antimicrobials in food production, and its coupling to the increase and spread of AMR, has long been unrecognized. In today’s food production there is an extensive global use of antibiotics and antimicrobials in both animal husbandry and plant cultivation. WHO estimates that more than half of the antibiotics used globally are used in animal production[1], primarily for maintaining health (disease prevention) and productivity (growth promotion) in food animals. In some countries the use of antibiotics in animals are four times larger than that used in humans. In 2010 the total global consumption was estimated at approximately 63 000 tons, but due to an increased consumer demand as well as a shift to large-scale farming with more routinely used antimicrobials, this consumption is predicted to rise by approximately 67 % by 2030. The European Medicine Agency has shown that approximately two thirds of all antibiotics used in 26 European countries were used in farm animals.

Routes of pharmaceuticals and AMR to the Baltic Sea

Pharmaceutical residues are known to be continuously discharged into different environmental compartments, including surface and groundwater, soils, and aquatic ecosystems in the Baltic Sea Region where they can pose as an environmental risk. There are two major entry paths of residues, bacteria and antimicrobial genes to the Baltic Sea. Households and health care facilities via wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) (water effluents and sludge) and different veterinary practices leading to diffuse discharges via manure and slurry. In addition, biogas plants can be a pathway of pharmaceuticals spreading to the environment. In the light of current and future climate change the need for reuse of water is increasing as a consequence of water scarcity and drought. The potential role of treated wastewater reuse as an alternative source of water supply is now well acknowledged and embedded within international, European, and national strategies.

This report is written for the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) commissioned by EUSBSR PA Hazards  and Helcom Secretariat for the purpose of assessing the current state of the Baltic Sea marine environment regarding antimicrobial resistance levels, and anthropogenic contributing drivers.  It identifies sources, inputs and pathways of antimicrobial classes in the BSR, discusses possible assessment/indicators for AMR – in short and longer-term and outlines limitations and future perspective in the work on AMR within Helcom concerning monitoring, indicator development and data collection.

Download the report here Antimicrobial Resistance in the Baltic Sea Region.

 

I hope I will see many of you in some of these exciting PA hazards projects in the fall!

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