Read the conference outcomes
See below for detailed reports on each session, and most (*) of the presentations.
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Details on workshops and plenary sessions
Details of the various sessions day 1
Click to find the report for each session.
Although PFAS seemed to be the panacea to repel water, dirt and grease, it has now also shown its shadow side. During this morning session, the PFAS challenges at hand will be addressed. From setting the scene and discussing the available instruments and ambitions to uncovering additional challenges, a diverse range of speakers will take you through all steps of the life cycle of PFAS.
- Cabinet of the Flemish Minister of Environment - Toby De Backer, Deputy Chief of Staff
- European Commission, DG Environment - Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, Director Directorate Circular Economy
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Loren Denton, Director Monitoring, Assistance, and Media Programs Division
- CEFIC - Marleen Pauwels, Executive Director of the Halogens Industry Sector
- EEB - Patrick ten Brink, Secretary General
- Environment & Spatial Development Department - Flanders, Belgium – Hans Reynders, Programme Manager Substances of Very High Concern
Moderator: Jan Hautekiet
The EU Chemical Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) aims at fostering a transition towards safer and more sustainable chemicals. To ensure this transition, safety and sustainability considerations should be integrated when assessing existing chemicals as well as alternative chemicals that might substitute them. The operationalisation of the Safe and Sustainable-by-Design (SSbD) concept is one of the ambitions of the chemical strategy.
The developing and mainstreaming of substitutes for PFAS in products or PFAS-free processes should make it possible to reduce its impacts considerably and provide an important contribution to the circular economy objectives.
Accelerating innovation, sharing of existing knowledge and practices are important instruments to take huge steps in this respect.
- Federal Ministry of Economy Belgium - Daphné Hoyaux: “How to stimulate the development of alternatives to PFAS: presenting the results”
- Change Chemistry - Asli Tamer Vestlund, Safe and sustainable alternatives to PFAS
- OECD - Eeva Leinala: “PFASs and alternatives in cosmetics: report on commercial availability and current uses”, “PFASs and alternatives in food packaging (paper and paperboard): Report on the commercial availability and current uses
- Chemsec - Jonatan Kleimark: “Marketplace, the online platform for safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals”
- CENTEXBEL - Myriam Vanneste, R&D manager
Moderator: Victor Dries - Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM)
Across Europe, national and regional monitoring activities have detected PFAS in the environment and in humans. With the collection of data, new challenges have arisen. How to collect, use and compare the information? Due to a lack of systematic and uniform mapping and monitoring, it proves to be difficult to interpret all the data, to compare different data sets and to make it transparent and understandable for everybody. A variety of experts will address these difficulties and will discuss possible ways on how to overcome them.
- US EPA – Michael Barrette
- Le Monde - journalist Stéphane Horel (Les décodeurs)
- Environment & Spatial Development Department - Flanders, Belgium - Guillaume Vandekerckhove
- Brussels region’s Department of the Environment – Aurélie Duliere
Moderator: Pascal Dussart
Substances of concern are used in different industrial processes. Through the (revised) Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) the minimization concept will be (mandatory) used throughout Europe. Together with the new innovation center INCITE many elements to potentially fast track substitution of substances in Europe are there. To ensure effective emission control effective emission monitoring is crucial.
The Netherlands has already a few years of experience with an obligation to minimize the use and emissions of substance of concern. It will elaborate on this and also share its views on the potential of the new IED proposal.
Qualitative and quantitative monitoring of emissions is crucial to ensure emission control. VITO has developed both PFAS-screening methods and quantitative methods to determine PFAS in different environmental compartments (water and air).
- Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, The Netherlands: Sam van de Snepscheut – Senior policy officer Chemical Safety; Paul Bakker – Senior policy officer Water Quality
- Flemish Institute of Technological Research (VITO): Stefan Voorspoels & Griet Jacobs (water) and Jelle Hofman (air) VITO reference laboratory
Moderator: Magnus Løfstedt, European Environmental Agency
The past two years, groundbreaking developments have been taken place in Flanders in the field of innovative monitoring activities to combat pollution of all environmental compartments and exposure to humans. In this session, more insight will be given in what has been done and what needs to be further developed in the future. The audience will be actively engaged during this session with the aim to use the feedback of the participants to improve future monitoring.
- Flanders Environment Agency (VMM) - Maarten De Jonge: Monitoring PFAS in air, water and biota
- Public Waste Agency Flanders (OVAM) - Laetitia Six: Monitoring PFAS in soil
- Environment & Spatial Development Department - Flanders, Belgium - Maja Mampaey: Human biomonitoring in the region around 3M – Zwijndrecht, Belgium
- Ineris France - Valeria Dulio: European PFAS baseline in PARC (Partnership for the Assessment of the Risks for Chemicals - Horizon Europe)
Moderator: Karen Van Campenhout, Environment & Spatial Development Department - Flanders, Belgium and Wim Gabriels - Flanders Environment Agency (VMM)
Although PFAS only recently became known to the wider public, it has already been on the radar of the Flemish Enforcement Department for a long time. During this session, an overview will be given on the Flemish PFAS enforcement process. Different tools and actions will be analysed and discussed through interaction with the audience to generate input for the improvement of the policy process for substances of very high concern.
Environment & Spatial Development Department - Flanders, Belgium
- Yannick Vanhaegenborgh – expert on (waste) water
- Saartje Sonck – expert on waste
- Ann Spaerkeer – expert on air
- Philip Tanghe – environmental inspector: firefighting foams
Moderator: Sigrid Raedschelders
The objective of environmental policies based on the use of best available techniques (BAT) is generally to reduce the environmental impact of industrial activities in a cost-effective way. BAT-studies (on European or other level) support competent authorities in drafting permit conditions.
But for substances of concern (SoC) BAT might not be sufficient as negative effects on environment, health and the overall environmental quality push for innovative techniques potentially beyond BAT. Current BREFs have not addressed hazardous substances adequately so far.
Cost effectiveness calculations potentially stretch the BAT principle. This session will focus on BAT, innovative techniques and BREF’s. And how the updated IED can support the zero-pollution ambition.
- Part 1: BAT, innovation and permitting
BAT as the minimum for permitting (with 2 recent Flemish BAT-studies on PFAS abatement techniques as examples). When is BAT not enough? What role for innovation within and beyond the permit to ensure a high level of protection of the environment.
- Part 2: BREF’s and hazardous substances how to improve the Seville process and output
How can we ensure future BREF’s, with impact in all EU member states (and beyond), will be more relevant on addressing reduction of releases of hazardous substances and support the use of less toxic chemicals. How can the updated IED contribute and have a positive effect on BREF’s. What can be done to improve the Seville process (process of BREF making) and how does this affect the update of the BREF Guidance (in Dutch)(opens in new window).
After the presentations (2x 20 minutes) there will be a panel discussion with a moderator.
- Department of the Environment, Flanders – Annelies Baert and Vicky Demeyer
- Finnish Environment Institute Syke – Emmi Vähä
- European Commission, DG Environment – Camille Siefridt
- Hazardous Waste Europe – Nicolas Humez
- European Environment Bureau (EEB) – Aliki Kriekouki
- Finnish Environment Institute Syke – Kaj Forsius
Moderator: Environment & Spatial Development Department, Flanders, Belgium – Tom Boonen
- Part 1: BAT, innovation and permitting
Knowledge about (risk of) health effects of PFAS is being build. It remains a challenge to adequately assess the health risks of PFAS, partly because of the different properties per specific PFAS, the impossibility to predict health effects at the individual level based on amount of exposure or blood levels of PFAS, and the multifactorial nature of the relevant health effects.
How to decide which actions are useful for the protection of the population and individuals involved and how to convey the complex message - all the more since treatment is not possible and exposure limiting measures are advised - will be discussed. The accumulated expertise, conducted research and future actions regarding PFAS and health in the 3M area and Flanders will be discussed.
- Flanders Department of Health, Belgium - Ilona Gabaret and Bart Bautmans
- VENETO Region, Italy - Vanessa Groppi and Gisella Pitter
- World Health Organisation - Irina Zastenskaya
- Soil and Waste Wallonia, Belgium - Thomas Lambrechts
GGD Zeeland - Ard van Pelt
Spaque, Belgium - Marie Jailler
Moderator: Tim De Winter, Flanders Department of Health, Belgium
The widespread use of many products containing PFAS over the past decades has caused an omnipresent contamination with several PFAS in our environment. This contamination most often can not be linked to one specific polluter, which makes it difficult to point out a specific party to pay for the costs caused by the remediation of the contamination. Thus the bill typically is being paid by the government or by companies or citizens who want to carry out excavations and have to clean the contaminated soil or groundwater.
In this session, we want to explore the possibility to place a financial responsibility for those costs on the producers of the products that lay at the source of the contamination.
- European Commission – Michel Sponar, Deputy head of unit marine environment and clean water services
- Cabinet of Minister for Environment - Toby De Backer, Deputy Chief of Staff at the cabinet of the Flemish Minister of Environment
- Deloitte Consulting – Maarten Dubois, Director Sustainability and Circular Economy
- ChemSec - Theresa Kjell, Senior Policy Advisor
- Flanders Environment Agency (VMM) - David Knight, Policy Advisor Air Pollution
Moderator: Victor Dries, Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM)
Details of the various sessions & excursions day 2
Click to find the report for each session.
The Knowledge center on Innovative Remediation Solutions (KIS vzw) is a newly launched center that aims to bring together experience and knowledge, to accelerate innovation in the remediation of polluted soil, water and air, by looking at both technical, economic and social aspects. The primary area of focus will be PFAS.
The overall perspective of the innovation needs for the remediation of persistent pollutants will be presented. During this plenary session, different members of KIS will present their activities and share their views on what they want to achieve with the cooperation.
Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) - Werner Annaert - General Manager: How OVAM deals with the PFAS crisis and why the creation of KIS plays an important role in it.
Flemish Institute of Technological Research (VITO) – Johan Gemoets - project Manager VITO & President of KIS vzw: The mission and activities of KIS.
Remediation sector OVB (association of remediation enterprises) - An Smet - Managing Director Envisan at Jan De Nul: What’s in it for companies? Which challenges will be tackled with this new organization?
Professor Anna Krzywoszynska, University Oulu, scientific expert and member of Soil Mission Board: The production of soil knowledge between science and society and the importance of KIS for other (European) countries.
Moderator: Jan Hautekiet
Recycling is an important part of a circular economy. It helps to reduce the environmental impact and saves necessary resources. With current and future PFAS standards in mind, which waste streams are at risk of too high percentages of PFAS, so that they are unsafe to recycle? Are there options other than destroying these waste streams? Can sorting techniques be used to separate the most problematic fractions or are there purification techniques that extract the PFAS from the waste stream? As an example of how an industry is coping with PFAS in its products, the case of the Textile industry will be presented.
- Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) - Peter Loncke
- Centexbel - Stijn Steuperaert
- ChemSec - Theresa Kjell
Moderator: Victor Dries - Public Waste Agency of Flanders
Due to its specific properties, soil contamination with PFAS is a major challenge for environmental agencies, regulators, industry and soil remediation experts. In this session organized by OVAM, we’ll map out strategies to inventorize potentially PFAS contaminated sites and approaches taken currently to remediate contaminated sites. In the second half of the workshop, we open the floor to policy makers, industry and civilians confronted with PFAS soil contamination, to discuss with them their learnings so far, the difficulties they’ve encountered and their ideas for the future.
- Mapping and investigation of PFAS suspected sites in Flanders - Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) – Griet Van Gestel
- PFAS Treatment: the Current State of Play - AECOM – Rosa Gwinn
- Tackling PFAS at a former paper manufacturing site - Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) – Katrien Van de Wiele
- COMMON FORUM - Dietmar Müller-Grabherr
- NICOLE – Gerlinde De Moor
- European Commission, DG Environment - Bavo Peeters
- Zwijndrecht Gezond - Carolien Van der Cruyssen
Moderators: Johan Ceenaeme and Laetitia Six, Public Waste Agency of Flanders
In 2021, severe PFAS pollution was discovered at the industrial area of 3M while redeveloping part of the traffic infrastructure around Antwerp, called Oosterweel. The findings at 3M and the Oosterweel works led to specific enforcement actions at 3M, at the site of Oosterweel and at the waste processing company Indaver, where PFAS-containing waste is processed. During this session, several enforcement officers will share their experiences and will give insight in the problems that arise, both at these companies and in the enforcement itself.
Environment & Spatial Development Department - Flanders, Belgium
- Kris De Wree: environmental inspector 3M
- An Swinnen: environmental inspector Oosterweelwerken
- Joffrey Vanmoer: environmental inspector Indaver
You can choose one of these two working visits:
This is the time table for the event. Details of the plenary and parallel sessions can be found below the table.
|Plenary day 1: Tackling PFAS pollution: a pro-active and systemic approach
|Reception with live music by Primrose Trio
|9.30 - 11.00
|Plenary day 2 KIS vzw: Knowledge Center on Innovative Remediation
Solutions: a new community to spur innovation, cooperation and
knowledge on substances of very high concern
Apologies, there are no more available places for this event. Registration is no longer possible.
|February 1st 2024
|February 2nd 2024
Refund policy: For organisational reasons, we can only provide refunds for cancellations that reach us before 3 January 2024 at PFASfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- Convention Center Vestar
Van Diepenbeeckstraat 12 – 2018 Antwerpen
Parking: Lamorinièrestraat 53 – 2018 Antwerpen
How to get to Vestar(opens in new window)
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Extend your stay
Flanders, Belgium’s northern region, is located in the heart of Europe. It’s known for its chocolate, fries and beer, and has been praised worldwide for its impressive heritage and the progressive craftsmanship of its master painters and their descendants.
Flanders may be modest in size, but that’s exactly why it’s wonderful to discover by bicycle, for example. Discover the gems of heritage in their green, natural regions. Flanders is also perfect for exploring cities such as Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen. A multitude of arts, heritage, gastronomy and other highlights at just a stone’s throw from each other.
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