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Call: LC-GD-8-1-2020: Innovative, systemic zero-pollution solutions to protect health, environment and natural resources from persistent and mobile chemicals

Type of Fund Action programme
Description of programme
"Horizon 2020 - Societal Challenges "
A challenge-based approach will bring together resources and knowledge across different fields, technologies and disciplines, including social sciences and the humanities. This will cover activities from research to market with a new focus on innovation-related activities, such as piloting, demonstration, test-beds, and support for public procurement and market uptake.
Funding focuses on the following challenges:
  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing;
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy;
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy;
  • Smart, green and integrated transport;
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;
  • Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;
  • Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.
Link Link to Programme
Description of programme
"Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials"

This Subprogramme aims to achieve a resource- and water-efficient economoy and society that is also resilient to climate change. Furthermore, it seeks to promote the protection and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. Lastly, the Programme also supports the sustainable supply and use of raw materials, in order to meet the needs of a growing global population within the sustainable limits of the planet's natural resources and eco-systems.

LC-GD-8-1-2020: Innovative, systemic zero-pollution solutions to protect health, environment and natural resources from persistent and mobile chemicals
Description of call
"LC-GD-8-1-2020: Innovative, systemic zero-pollution solutions to protect health, environment and natural resources from persistent and mobile chemicals"
A recent Eurobarometer survey (2020) showed that a large majority of respondents are worried about the impact on their health of chemicals present in everyday products. There is also solid scientific evidence substantiating health and environmental concerns related to chemicals. The European Green Deal includes a commitment to a zero-pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment. In this context, it specifically mentions the need to rapidly address the risks posed by hazardous chemicals and, more specifically, very persistent chemicals.

Pollution from persistent and mobile chemicals is often a systemic problem, as it is driven by factors closely related to the prevailing ways of production and consumption and is reinforced by missing appropriate technical solutions, including (bio)remediation and monitoring techniques for the environment (including the marine environment). These chemicals also pose challenges for regulatory authorities to develop or enforce effective policies.

An example of these very persistent chemicals is per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of thousands of manmade chemicals that are widely used in various consumer and industrial products (e.g. water- and stain repellent textiles, fire-fighting foams, plastics, food contact materials and cosmetics) and to which citizens and the environment are exposed. They are an increasing concern as they are persistent in the environment, very mobile, toxic and can bioaccumulate. For these reasons, they are found everywhere in the environment and their concentration increases over time, creating additional risks for human health and ecosystems. There are examples of contamination by PFAS of water and soil in most EU countries, which are costly or in some cases impossible to remediate. The overall costs to society from PFAS alone as an example are estimated by one source to be € 52-84bn across Europe (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2019), which is likely to be an underestimate, as it includes only a limited range of health effects (high cholesterol, impaired immune system, and cancer). Some studies have shown negative effects of PFAS on the immune system, including a reduced response to vaccines. Similar effects are known also in connection to other kinds of persistent chemicals. This is of concern considering the current COVID-19 pandemic.


Taking into account latest policy needs and developments, this call topic aims at establishing new knowledge, exploring the feasibility of new or improved technologies and demonstrating innovative solutions to protect health, environment and natural resources from persistent and mobile chemicals. Selected projects are expected to advance our knowledge on health impacts and environmental effects and to address and preferably prevent a specific pollution problem involving contamination of environmental resources (such as soil, sediments, air, food and drinking water). The solutions developed should lead to cost-effective prevention, monitoring and to, as a last resort, mitigation or elimination of the issues (e.g. mitigation or remediation efforts in particularly affected geographic areas). They should also lead to better understanding of environmental fate and help proactively prevent negative impacts from persistent and mobile chemicals (and, where relevant, their precursors) on humans and the environment. The projects may include appropriate technologies, business, governance and social innovation aspects and the demonstration of innovative solutions in a relevant environment (TRL 4-6). In particular, projects may consider analytical methods and monitoring, enabling to quantify entire groups of persistent and mobile chemicals in food, soil or drinking water. This would allow achieving a higher level of consumer protection, as such grouping methods are essential for regulating groups of harmful substances that have similar structures.

The successful projects should target persistent and mobile chemicals and include elements (one or several), such as

  • gain insight to the uses, sources and environmental fate of persistent and mobile chemicals
  • development of new cost-effective high-resolution methods to analyse and model the presence of persistent and mobile chemicals in products/materials and in different media;
  • environmental and human (bio)monitoring of persistent and mobile chemicals;
  • gathering of toxicity and toxico-kinetic information (including animal-free approaches such as in vitro and in silico approaches) in order to allow characterising risks to human health and ecosystems, including at low environmental levels and combined/cumulative exposure;
  • detection and identification of specific pollution problems and their sources
  • research and development of (bio)remediation technologies of soil and water (including sources of drinking water) contaminated by persistent and mobile substances and their precursors;
  • development and improvement of models to predict and assess long-term trends and risks for persistent mobile substances and propose preventive solutions
  • development of best practices for the management and treatment of waste, soil and water containing persistent and mobile substances, in line with the ambitions of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

Proposed solutions should be suitable for real life challenges, environmentally sustainable, cost-effective and easily implementable to encourage their uptake. Therefore, close consultation or collaboration with potential end-users of the expected results during the project lifetime is recommended.

Expected Impact:

  • Provide a foundation for prevention and mitigation solutions based on better understanding the sources and distribution of the targeted chemicals, access to models of their environmental fate and degradation pathways and improved understanding of relevance for human and environmental health of the problem of emerging and persistent pollution;
  • Provide solutions and support decision making for addressing large-scale diffuse contamination of water and soil with persistent and mobile chemicals (including for combinations of pollutants) in an integrated manner;
  • Contribute to achieving a toxic-free environment through solutions for better load reduction, (bio)remediation and detection technologies, including real time monitoring approaches;
  • Improve risk assessment to facilitate optimal risk management and preventive solutions;
  • Support policy development, regulatory action and risk communication with FAIR[5] data of regulatory relevance;
  • Support actions deriving from several EU documents on persistent and mobile chemicals[6], the upcoming Zero Pollution Action Plan and the aims of the new Circular Economy Action Plan[7] to minimise the presence of substances that pose problems to human and environmental health.
Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Children & Youth, Education & Training
Funding area EU Member States
Albania / Shqipëria
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Iceland / Ísland
Montenegro / Crna Gora/Црна Гора
North Macedonia / Северна Македонија
Norway / Norge
Serbia / Сpбија
Switzerland / Schweiz / Suisse / Svizzera
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Albania / Shqipëria
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Iceland / Ísland
Montenegro / Crna Gora/Црна Гора
North Macedonia / Северна Македонија
Norway / Norge
Serbia / Сpбија
Switzerland / Schweiz / Suisse / Svizzera
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details All legal entities located in the EU or in Third Countries can participate in Horizon 2020
Project Partner Yes
Further info Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement signature (single stage procedure):
  • Information on the outcome of the evaluation: Maximum 5 months from the final date for submission; and
  • Indicative date for the signing of grant agreements: Maximum 8 months from the final date for submission.
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details Total call budget:
  • RIA Research and Innovation action: EUR 40 million
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 8 to 12 million would allow the specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Funding rate for RIA: 100%

Submission Online via Funding & Tenders Portal
Contact Details Link to the National Contact Point Finder.

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