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Reconsideration of the indicators for Dutch priority substances. Phase 1: development of the methodology

Herziening indicatoren Nederlandse prioritaire stoffen. Fase 1: methodiekontwikkeling


The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) proposes a new methodology to calculate the so-called Environmental Pressure Indicator (EPI) for harmful chemical substances. The EPI indicates the extent of the actual emission of a so-called 'Dutch priority substance' compared to the desirable emission formulated as a policy target. European legislation requires that the emission quantities of many of these substances in the air, water and soil be provided by member states. The arithmetic method that has been used to calculate the indicator is no longer satisfactory due to the increase in the number of priority substances since 2006. In this method, the indicator is calculated by relating the actual emissions with the emission policy targets to obtain a specific indicator value for each substance. As the policy targets of the substances newly added to the list of priority substances are not known, it is impossible to calculate the EPI for each substance. The newly proposed methodology incorporates the toxicity of the Dutch priority substances into the calculation, thereby increasing the quality of the EPI. The new methodology enables a weighted sum of the emissions to be obtained. Applying this approach, the emission of substances which degrade more slowly and/or are more toxic to the environment is given more weight in the calculation. It is also possible to calculate an indicator for all of the substances in a single compartment (air, water and soil) as well sub-indicators according to substance or types of emission sources, respectively. The current Environmental Quality Indicator (EQI), which indicates the concentration of substances in the environment, and the Environmental Effect Indicator (EEI), which indicates the extent of the environmental effects, are still acceptable indicators and have not been amended. Since 1995, the RIVM and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) have been calculating indicators in order to be able to follow the trends in emissions and environmental concentrations of Dutch priority substances. These indicators can be used by policy-makers to implement amendments to the government's environmental policy.

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