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Proceeding Paper

Prioritization of Specific Pollutants in the Scope of EU Water Framework Directive in Turkey †

Department of Environmental Engineering, Dokuz Eylul University, İzmir 35390, Turkey
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at Innovations-Sustainability-Modernity-Openness Conference (ISMO’22), Bialystok, Poland, 26–27 May 2022.
Environ. Sci. Proc. 2022, 18(1), 16;
Published: 5 September 2022
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of Innovations-Sustainability-Modernity-Openness Conference (ISMO’22))


The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) is concerned with the long-term management of water resources in Europe. The primary goal of the Water Framework Directive is to attain “good water status”. Surface, coastal, and transitional waters must have “good ecological and chemical status” in order to protect human health, water supply, ecosystems, and biodiversity. To obtain a good chemical status, water resources must be free of physical and chemical contamination. Priority and specific pollutants are the key issues in chemical pollution. Nonpoint and point sources of pollution must be taken into account by EU member and candidate countries when determining pollutants distinctive to their own nations. Each basin has its own specific pollution profile in terms of agricultural, industrial, and anthropogenic characteristics. Therefore, the measures to be taken within the scope of water management should also be specific to the basin. Likewise, studies should be carried out to match the pollutants originating from the sectors operating in the basin with those sectors. It is important to evaluate the list of special pollutants created due to industrial and agricultural activities within the boundaries of the basin. Hence, pollutants in this list can also be customized as “prioritization of specific pollutant” using risk factors.

1. Introduction

River Basin Management Plan concepts are covered under the Water Framework Directive of the European Union, which also establishes a time frame and program for EU member states to create management plans. The Water Framework Regulation is an organizational directive in the area of water. In terms of bringing together the legislation especially with regard to the water directives, it is hoped that this legislation will serve as a single source of information for all of these different water directives and specific substances and pollution sources. Members of the European Union and candidate countries such as Turkey are concerned about the implementation of the WFD in their country. The WFD is also seen as a significant tool for developing countries’ water management strategies. However, a country’s economic or environmental conditions may affect the approach utilized to implement the WFD [1,2,3].
Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry conducted a number of projects to detect specific contaminants, which were all financed by the European Union. A number of potential contaminants were compiled based on the results of field investigations, surveys, and literature reviews, among many other sources. Using point sources, primarily industrial activities and capacity reports of substances that are produced or imported at a rate of up to 1 ton per year, and nonpoint sources, such as pesticides that have been detected in the river basin or are widely used in Turkey, a list of specific pollutants was created [3,4,5]. As a result of multiple evaluations, thousands of different pollutants have been included in the list of possible specific pollutants that may exist in river basins. Therefore, prioritization is needed to evaluate specific pollutants among the candidate chemicals.

2. Specific Pollutants in Turkey

Despite the lack of a generally accepted method for the specific substances’ list, the member states prioritize specific contaminants using a two-tiered system [3]. In Turkey, the first stage was to create a professional and legally specific pollutant list after the assessment of the candidate pollutants. The elimination approach is used in the second step to evaluate specific pollutants among the candidate chemicals.
The selection of the most hazardous pollutants to monitor in Turkey’s river basins was decided to carry out using the COMMPS and Total Hazard Scoring (THS) methods, as well as risk code, expert assessment, and bioaccumulation characteristics of substances, and a national specific pollutant list. Due to the evaluations, the number of pollutants in the final specific contaminant list decreased from 3762 to 250 pollutants [4,5].

3. Methods for Categorization of Specific Pollutants

In this process, a database has been created for prioritization along with the determination of priority methodologies. An evaluation should be made on the list formed after this approach. This evaluation can be made according to short, medium, and long terms. A risk assessment has also been conducted for each individual chemical. In the short-term evaluation, chemicals that require immediate action are included. Medium- and long-term plans can be considered for four and eight years, respectively. In addition, pollutants can be categorized according to their detection (category A) and nondetection (category B) at monitoring points or detection in the receiving environment (category C). Another category C is made according to the risk group of the pollutant. If a manufacturing capacity report of the substance has information about the amount of use, the “combined monitoring-based and modeling-based priority setting” (COMMPS) method can be applied. If this information is not available, elimination is possible using the total hazard score (THS) and total impact score (TIS) methods. If the chemical is in the low-risk group, it is evaluated in the other category D. According to expert opinion, chemicals in these categories can be given more importance [4,5,6,7].

4. Prioritization for Monitoring of Specific Pollutant

An additional assessment within the river basin is required for prioritization of substances. It is suggested that point pollution sources operating in the basin be examined in short, medium, and long terms based on industrial capacity reports, since each basin contains a significant number of pollutants. This allows professionals to detect contaminants that require quick attention in order to continue monitoring program activities.
The chemical properties of substances (molecular weight, water resolution, and Henry constant), toxicity data (risk codes, LC50, EC50, NOEC, and PNEC) for risk assessment, resistance and permanence data (semi-life and degradation and hydraulics), and bioaccumulation features (logKow and BCF) are needed. According to these data, the exposure and impact scores are determined for pollutants. The exposure score is determined according to the emission amount, dispersion, and degradation characteristics of the pollutant. The impact score is determined by direct impact (toxicity), indirect impact (logKow and BCF), and impact on humans (risk codes). The COMMPS score is derived from the multiplication of the exposure score and impact score [4,5,6,7]. These results represent potential hazards to human health and the environment, particularly loss of life and property. In addition, substances are registered under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals System, which is currently used in Europe to regulate chemicals, notably those categorized as R50–R53, R51–R53, etc. It is recommended to evaluate pollutants in terms of risk codes. Pollutants with a risk code of R50-53 are extremely harmful to the water environment and will have long-term adverse effects.

5. Study Area: Marmara Basin in Turkey

The Marmara Basin covers a total area of 2,308,464 hectares, which includes artificial areas, agricultural areas, forest and semi-natural regions, wet areas, and water surfaces. There are heavily industrial areas in the basin. Industrial facilities in the basin area produce plastic, textiles, fibers, and marble, as well as chemicals, frozen food, paper, packaging, and automobile spare parts. Another important pollutant source in the basin is agriculture.
Various projects in Turkey have conducted studies on the identification of pollutants originating from the industry [4]. According to industrial sector codes, predictions for potential contaminants in water can be made from this perspective. These data make it possible to specialize pollutants for sector codes. Consequently, the first step is to determine the types of industrial sectors that are present in the river basin zone.
Industrial sector codes (The standard European nomenclature of productive economic activities—NACE) that are the most active and provide pressure on the Marmara basin water masses are 15.11, 13.30, 29.10, 20.30, 17.21, 20.13, 24.10, 24.54, 24.45, 22.21, 22.22, and 22.29. Then, using the sector-pollutant data collection and national specific pollutant list, it was decided which pollutants may be in the Marmara. This information gives a rough idea of what kinds of contaminants might be in the receiving environment, but it does not do a full analysis. According to early research findings, the number of contaminants present in the basin is 104. Several of the compounds on this list are also categorized as “priority pollutants”. According to this conclusion, 104 chemicals in the river basin should be monitored. As previously noted, while there are 250 pollutants on the Turkish National Specific Pollutant List, there are fewer potential contaminants in the Marmara basin. In addition, immediate monitoring and controls may be required owing to the serious adverse effects of some chemicals on the environment and individuals. Identifying these contaminants that require quick action will significantly reduce costs associated with monitoring. Consequently, a second assessment study is necessary. Based on Section 3, the prioritization study results showed that the pollutants may be widely observed, and it is recommended that they should be monitored in the Marmara basin according to a short-term assessment. The pollutants are perchloroethylene, parachlorometacresol, benzo(a)fluoren, zinc, copper, chromium, tin, cobalt, iron, aluminum, titanium, total petroleum hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (PCB 28, PCB 31, PCB 52, PCB 101, PCB 118, PCB 138, PCB 153, and PCB 180), and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (acenaphthene, acenaphthylene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, dibenzo(a,h)anthracene, fluorene, phenantherene, and pyrene). These pollutants, with the risk code R50-53, are very hazardous to aquatic ecosystems and will have long-term detrimental impacts on aquatic species and people.

6. Conclusions

The WFD 2000/60/EC of the European Union establishes the strategic approach for dealing with chemically contaminated rivers. It aims at both the monitoring and detection of 45 priority pollutants and specific pollutants in surface waters. Increasing the number of chemicals to be monitored will prevent the process from being properly carried out. As a result, prioritization studies on basin gain importance in terms of planning the monitoring of chemicals that require urgent action and reducing monitoring costs.
As a consequence of the assessment conducted in accordance with the risk codes, the basin-specific contaminants were prioritized. These findings may provide information for detecting compounds requiring immediate action and enabling authorized institutions to take the appropriate precautions.

Author Contributions

S.E. and E.Ç. carried out the identification and prioritization studies of the pollutants together; S.E. wrote the paper. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.


We would like to thank the Turkish researchers who carried out the projects within the scope of the EU WFD, TUBITAK (Project grant: 112G083), and The Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry General Directorate of Water Management for their valuable contributions in sharing the project outputs.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Eker, S.; Çokay, E. Prioritization of Specific Pollutants in the Scope of EU Water Framework Directive in Turkey. Environ. Sci. Proc. 2022, 18, 16.

AMA Style

Eker S, Çokay E. Prioritization of Specific Pollutants in the Scope of EU Water Framework Directive in Turkey. Environmental Sciences Proceedings. 2022; 18(1):16.

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Eker, Serkan, and Ebru Çokay. 2022. "Prioritization of Specific Pollutants in the Scope of EU Water Framework Directive in Turkey" Environmental Sciences Proceedings 18, no. 1: 16.

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