More than 100,000 industrial chemicals are in use today in Europe and more than 1,000 new chemicals are added to the list every year. The rate at which these chemicals are assessed by authorities is slower than the rate of introduction of new chemicals. This leaves the majority of new chemicals untested; and new studies measuring the joint toxicity of whole wastewater samples show that only a fraction of the toxicity (e.g. 1-5%) can be explained by standard monitored chemicals.
The overall vision of VANDALF is to develop and implement flexible and dynamic effect-based tools to identify the chemicals causing the remaining 95-99% of toxicity in effluent water. VANDALF will develop and implement an innovative toxicology-driven risk assessment platform to identify Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in wastewater. With this it will be possible to focus monitoring programs, remediation strategies and regulatory measures on the chemicals contributing most to the overall toxicity. VANDALF will provide information on CECs which are not removed by the current wastewater treatment technologies (or are created in the process), and therefore require the development of new technologies or the enforcing of regulatory measures on their use and emission.
In VANDALF, the approach is to link technology-specific, but otherwise unbiased and non-targeted chemical detections (‘chemical fingerprints’) with sets of relevant toxicological endpoints (‘toxicological fingerprints’) to identify which chemicals or groups of chemicals that can explain the toxicity. This approach was put forward by Eide et al. in 2002 under the name virtual-EDA (VEDA)