18 / 19-11-2008: PILLS-kick-off conference in Germany

    On 18th / 19th of November, the kick-off conference for the PILLS project took place in Gelsen­kirchen, Ger­many. Emschergenossenschaft - as Lead Partner of the project - was proud to invite the European partners to Germany in order to celebrate the official project start. About 100 interested people, coming from 6 European countries, took part in the conference and had the chance to listen to interesting speeches as well as to an international discussion round about pharma­ceutical residues to be found in the aquatic system.


    `Many people get scared of the headlines about micropollutants in water bodies. Scientists tell us, that the amount of residues in drinking water is presently not endangering human health. But we still know too little about micro­pollutants, metabolism and the life cycle of medicaments. Do these micro­pollu­tants have an effect on biodiversity? Which che­mical processes may happen due to the wide range of residues and their inter­dependencies?´ Dr Stemplewski, CEO of Emschergenossenschaft, raised these questions at the beginning of the con­ference. `That is for all of us as partners the motivation to cooperate in this project, as these questions cannot be solved only on a national level.´

    The PILLS partnership focuses on the treatment of wastewater coming from concentrated point sources such as hospitals. But Mr Stemplewski made also clear that it is necessary to do further steps to face this topic: The health care sector needs to cooperate, the industry should elaborate proposals for production, handling and application of pharmaceuticals and it is important to disseminate the findings, to create an awareness about the problem in general.


    Mr Düwel, coming from the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Environment and Conservation, Agriculture and Consumer Protection gave an overview about the water politics in Germany and especially in North Rhine-Westphalia. The European point of view was presented by Dr. Blöch from the Directorate-General Environment of the European Commission. He referred to the Water Framework Directive when quoting `Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such.´ For him the PILLS project is one step for an international cooperation with the aim to protect the aquatic system.

    A scientific overview about the relevance of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic system was given by Dr. Heberer from State Food Laboratory Oldenburg of the Lower Saxony Federal State Office of Consu­mer Protection and Food Safety. He made clear, that not only the medicinal products for human use but also such for animal use stress the environment.

    The conference was moderated by Ben van de Wetering from the International Commission for the protection of the Rhine (ICPR). The ICPR is looking forward to the cooperation results of the PILLS project, as the Rhine is connecting many European countries and water quality is an important subject for the Commission, as the Rhine is also used for drinking water supply.


    One highlight of the conference was the signature of the common Partnership Agreement by all representatives of the PILLS partners. With this agreement the members of the partnership commit themselves to working together at least until the end of 2011 and fulfil all tasks and duties during the implementation time of the project.


    Broadcasts of Emscher-Lippe TV referring to the conference:

    No pills in the wastewater
    Talk of the week with Dr Heberer

    Press articles about the meeting

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