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Emissions to water of hazardous substances from urban sources

Indicator Fact Sheet (Deprecated)

Assessment made on  01 May 2004

Generic metadata


Water Water (Primary theme)

Chemicals Chemicals

Coasts and seas Coasts and seas

DPSIR: Pressure


Indicator codes
  • WHS 008
Geographic coverage:

Policy issue:  Are discharges of hazardous substances from urban sources to water decreasing?

Key messages

  • Emissions of heavy metals from urban sources have decreased in the North Sea conference states region.

  • Emissions of hazardous substances in the Netherlands decreased during the 1990s.

  • However, due to variations in the urban sources taken into account and/or river flows, there is an important variability from year to year in the reported emissions of hazardous substances from urban sources in these regions.


Key assessment

Over the last 20 years, marked changes have occurred in the proportion of the population connected to waste water treatment as well as in the waste water treatment technology involved. There have also been some changes in other sectors, such as the increased use of lead-free fuels. These changes have led to decreases in the emission of hazardous substances to water from urban sources. This is particularly emphasised by the downward trend in the emission of heavy metals in the North Sea conference states area. However, the trend for other hazardous substances is less clear, for example in the Netherlands. The increase in the treatment of waste water, leads in turn to an increase in the quantities of sludge produced. The sludge is disposed of by spreading on soils, depositing in landfills or incineration, which can result in the transfer of heavy metal pollution from water to soil or air.

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