Aiming for zero pollution from persistent, mobile substances

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PFAS and other so called persistent, mobile (PM) substances are being recognized as serious threats to the safety of water resources. In many cases, drinking water supplies have to be purified using expensive technologies because of contamination by these substances. A new European research project, ZeroPM, is launched to challenge the problem, with Chalmers as one of the partners.

​The most famous examples of PM substances are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), found in various applications such as outdoor clothing and fire-fighting foam. But there are numerous other substances. This worldwide problem has triggered new policy and monitoring actions and the “European Green Deal” contains a broad initiative for chemical and water regulations for PM substances.

As part of this effort, a new, wide-reaching European research project has been funded: Zero Pollution of Persistent, Mobile substances – ZeroPM. The project that will start in autumn 2021 includes 15 partners and will run for 5 years.

ZeroPM will interlink and synergize prevention, prioritization and removal strategies to protect the environment and human health from PM substances. To do this, the project will establish an evidence-based multilevel framework to guide policy, technological and market incentives to minimise use, emissions and pollution of entire groups of PM substances.

The project will deliver policy improvements, an increase in business opportunities and competitiveness, an improved livelihood for EU citizens and beyond, with state-of-the-art methods, to prevent regrettable substitution and regrettable remediation of PM substance groups. ZeroPM will be the pathfinding project enabling the ambitions of the EU Chemical Strategy to become an on-the-ground reality, supporting the movement towards a zero pollution, toxic-free environment.

As one of the partners, Chalmers University of Technology will receive 8,4 MSEK in research funding over 5 years. Chalmers’ engagement is led by Gregory Peters and assisted by Rickard Arvidsson, Sverker Molander and Magdalena Svanström and a new PhD student, all at the division of Environmental Systems Analysis, Department of Technology Management and Economics.

“The consortium is loaded with excellent environmental chemists, policy experts and others. This is a chance for us at Chalmers to build on our recent work on how to consider PFAS in a holistic environmental assessment of alternative products. We are going to examine how to evaluate alternatives to PM substances in practical use, and how to choose water treatment and soil remediation strategies that don’t cause more environmental damage than they clean up”, says Professor Gregory Peters.



The project is funded under EU’s Horizon 2020 call “Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future: Research and innovation in support of the European Green Deal: Innovative, systemic zero-pollution solutions to protect health, environment and natural resources from persistent and mobile chemicals”.

ZeroPM partners: Stockholm University, Chalmers University of Technology and ChemSec, Sweden; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands; DVGW-Technologiezentrum Wasser (German Water Centre), The German Environment Agency and the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, Germany; Milieu Law and Policy Consulting, Belgium; ETH Zurich, Switzerland; University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg; University of the Aegean, Greece; TG Environmental Research, UK; Norwegian Water Research Institute, Norway; and the University of Vienna, Austria. 

The project is led by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute with Dr Sarah Hale as the Project Coordinator and Prof. Hans Peter Arp as co-coordinator.
ZeroPM website

Gregory Peters
  • Full Professor, Environmental Systems Analysis, Technology Management and Economics


Daniel Karlsson