Occurrence and removal of organic micropollutants: An overview of the watch list of EU Decision 2015/495
Although there are no legal discharge limits for micropollutants into the environment, some regulations have been published in the last few years. Recently, a watch list of substances for European Union-wide monitoring was reported in the Decision 2015/495/EU of 20 March 2015. Besides the substances previously recommended to be included by the Directive 39/2013/EU, namely two pharmaceuticals (diclofenac and the synthetic hormone 17-alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2)) and a natural hormone (17-beta-estradiol (E2)), the first watch list of 10 substances/groups of substances also refers three macrolide antibiotics (azithromycin, clarithromycin and erythromycin), other natural hormone (estrone (E1)), some pesticides (methiocarb, oxadiazon, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, acetamiprid and triallate), a UV filter (2-ethylhexyl-4-methoxycinnamate) and an antioxidant (2,6-di-tert-butyl-4-methylphenol) commonly used as food additive. Since little is known about the removal of most of the substances included in the Decision 2015/495/EU, particularly regarding realistic concentrations in aqueous environmental samples, this review aims to: (i) overview the European policy in the water field; (ii) briefly describe the most commonly used conventional and advanced treatment processes to remove micropollutants; (iii) summarize the relevant data published in the last decade, regarding occurrence and removal in aqueous matrices of the 10 substances/groups of substances that were recently included in the first watch list for European Union monitoring (Decision 2015/495/EU); and (iv) highlight the lack of reports concerning some substances of the watch list, the study of un-spiked aquatic matrices and the assessment of transformation by-products.