Preserve water quality
There are many chemical products (heavy metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides, detergents, PCBs, pharmaceuticals, etc.) present in rivers, lakes, coastal waters and aquifers, due to industrial, agricultural and residential activities. Their diversity, low concentration levels and interactions raise many questions concerning their potential effects on aquatic life and human health. To preserve water quality, Onema supports ambitious projects to gain more knowledge and to develop the tools and methods required for sustainable management of water resources. The goal is to detect contaminants, obtain more general information on chemical contamination in France, understand what happens to chemical products in natural environments, better understand their effects on aquatic ecosystems chronically exposed to low-concentration mixtures of products and to develop markers signalling exposure to pollutants. A further goal is to improve collective and non-collective sanitation systems, notably in small to mid-sized local governments. Finally, inspections are carried out in the field by Onema personnel to ensure compliance with regulations, particularly concerning reduced use of pesticides, and to report on releases of pollutants, either accidental or chronic. Priority topics include the risks caused by medicinal residues in water, reduced use of pesticides and their transfer in aquatic environments, substances that disrupt the endocrine system and monitoring contamination of fish by PCBs (chlorinated chemical derivatives long used in industrial applications).