Eliminating Micro-Pollutants from Effluents for REuse STrategies

PFAS Roadshow comes to Tartu

21 February 2024
The EMPEREST project hosted active discussions on the measures at source and treatment steps for PFAS to ensure good aquatic environment and water quality. As a space for knowledge exchange, the international workshop attracting over 80 participants was organised in Tartu on 12-14 February 2024.
Technical details

Hosted in the heart of European culture

The Zero PFAS Roadshow & EMPEREST 1st international workshop was opened by Raimond Tamm, Deputy Mayor of the City of Tartu. As a city participating in 2 EU Missions – in the EU Cities Mission as the only Mission City in Estonia, and the EU Mission Adaptation – Tartu is actively working on improving the city’s environmental status. This year, the status of the European Capital of Culture 2024 brings a lot of attention to Tartu!

“PFAS is an important topic for cities; local authorities need to comply with the EU regulations and follow the European trends.”
— Raimond Tamm, Deputy Mayor of the City of Tartu

On the photo: Raimond Tamm opening the event.

Tartu is actively involved in the EMPEREST project with two organisations: University of Tartu as well as Tartu Waterworks supplying the city with the water and wastewater services. The University of Tartu is leading the project activities related to the launch of the mobile pilot containers prepared for testing the efficiency of cost-effective post-treatment technologies. EMPEREST will have two such containers, set to take wastewater effluent tests in different countries, and the pioneering pilot plants are currently being built at the water facilities in Tartu and Gdansk.

“We are working with the future perspective.”
— Toomas Kapp, Tartu Waterworks Ltd.

On the photo: Toomas Kapp giving the welcoming words at the event.

After the Stone Age and Iron Age, now comes the PFAS Age

PFAS is everywhere: at homes, it can be already in the building materials and the waterproof shoes you wear on a rainy day; in the cooking paper, or the Teflon pan perfect for pancakes. And yet, the presence of PFAS in the environment is not a common knowledge. Even more, there is no single approach to its risk assessment or monitoring.

“PFAS is known in research and legislation. For municipalities and general population, PFAS is a new and unknown subject.”
— Kamila Gruškeviča, Riga Technical University, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Water Systems and Biotechnology Institute

The first workshop of the international EMPEREST series focused on “Raising awareness and initiating actions towards socio-environmental resilience to PFAS”, hosting over 80 participants from the national and local authorities, environmental agencies and research institutions, water utilities and academia.

This is already the third PFAS Roadshow event that EMPEREST has organised with the ZeroPFAS II project – the flagship project of EUSBSR PA Hazards – to create a targeted push and bring PFAS discussions this time to Estonian stakeholders. Previously, the Roadshows already visited first Swedish (in May 2023), and then Lithuanian stakeholders (in October 2023), proving an efficient tool for starting multistakeholder discussions.

The program of the workshop in Tartu consisted of expert presentations, pitches, group discussions and site visits, as well as of plenty of networking opportunities. The expert presentations gave a good introduction to the topic of PFAS from the points of view of regulation, health effects, risk management and removal technologies. The interactive group discussions focused on testing a draft version of a local PFAS risk assessment tool in an abstract city scape, the construction and use of the mobile pilot containers, and the coordination of PFAS expert network at the national level in Estonia.

A special study visit on the main day allowed us to see for the first time the construction site of the EMPEREST mobile container, which testing is set to start later this year.

Later, on the third day, the workshop participants could visit the Tartu wastewater treatment plant to learn more about the applied technologies.

Cooperation to make a difference

There are many actors involved in PFAS work, from municipalities directly addressing the interests of their citizens, to the national level, on which the information is gathered, and to the European level setting regulations. To formulate an effective response towards a complex challenge like PFAS, collaboration and information exchange are vital. The international workshop in Tartu, with a focus on the specific country Estonia, allowed combining the local, national and European levels in the discussions. The event brought key decision-makers in both formal and informal discussions over the three days’ event.

Throughout the EMPEREST project implementation, we actively exchange with and involve projects into our work. Not only it brings more comprehensive information, it also makes our voice stronger, as we develop regional monitoring recommendations and test cost-efficient post-treatment technologies!


Text and photos: Mariia Andreeva