The knowledge gap between research and application must be reduced
Because PFASs are so easily dispersed in the environment, regional and international cooperation is needed. And knowledge must be spread. Mayumi Narongin Fujikawa coordinates much of IVL's PFAS work, and leads several national and international PFAS projects.
"The management of PFASs and not least compliance with the EU's increasingly stringent PFAS regulations is a considerable challenge for many countries in Europe, not to mention the rest of the world”, says Mayumi Narongin Fujikawa of IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
The production of various PFAS substances is still high and their distribution is global, which means that efforts to reduce emissions and clean up the environment must be made in cooperation between countries and organizations, both upstream and downstream.
PFAS roadshows and PFAS coffee sessions
We face a tough transition between knowledge and application. Today there is a gap – and it's not surprising, as there are so many PFASs to take into account, a variety of regulations and a large number of supervisory authorities. For those who need to understand the issue, the learning curve is long.
In order to bridge this gap, IVL is managing both a Swedish and an international project for knowledge exchange between different stakeholders. Another important aim is to identify the need for new knowledge and initiate new research projects.
The aim is to draw attention to the PFAS problem in the countries that have not made so much progress, and to share knowledge in both directions.
In 2023 and 2024, the Baltic Sea PFAS Network is organizing a "PFAS Roadshow" with seminars and meetings in Sweden, Lithuania and Estonia. The roadshow started in May, with an extensive programme in Stockholm, and participants from seven countries. The project is funded by the Swedish Institute. The aim is to draw attention to the PFAS problem in those countries that have not yet made so much progress, and to identify the need for new knowledge in the future.
For a couple of years, the Baltic Sea PFAS Network has also been organizing monthly coffee sessions - digital meetings over a cup of coffee. The topics vary; discussions can be about PFAS in sludge, new regulations, methods for analysis, and everything from technology to law.
Local PFAS networks
It's an open network and more and more people want to join. We now have 170 people from about ten countries in the Baltic region. It's clear that there is a need for unconditional dialogue between experts. It's a constant learning process, says Mayumi Narongin Fujikawa.
In the Formas project "Reducing PFAS emissions through network building and knowledge sharing", IVL will initiate local networks, and over the next three years organize workshops and network meetings in a number of cities around Sweden.
Basically, both these projects are about communication. It is so easy for researchers to suffer from 'professional blindness', not being able to see for themselves what is interesting and relevant to others. We want to reduce that. It's also about understanding who we need to reach out to, to share knowledge with more people.