Important legal notice
Contact   |   Search on EUROPA   
Environment - Understanding the environment and the impacts of green technologies
“ESPREME will deliver knowledge that will help to reduce the impact of heavy metals on Europe’s environmental and human health.”

The problem

Heavy metals can accumulate in the environment and cause damage to ecosystems and human health. Strategies to reduce these impacts have to be developed. However, it is difficult to tackle this problem because analysis and actions are usually addressed from separate areas, such as air, water or soil. In addition, long-term effects are important. Hence, if only one environmental component is analysed for short periods, no consistent and effective strategy can be derived. A more holistic approach is required that will show how heavy metals are dispersed in Europe’s environment, and their effects on ecological and human health.

ESPREME  Reducing the environmental impact of heavy metals


ESPREME will carry out cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses to identify strategies that will reduce both the release of heavy metals and, ultimately, their impact on the environment and human health.

The project will:

  • Collate data on the emissions of six common heavy metals – arsenic, cadmium, chrome, lead, mercury and nickel – and on ways of reducing emissions
  • Improve models of how heavy metals are transported in the atmosphere, soil and water
  • Collect data on exposure levels and thresholds
  • Estimate the willingness of EU countries to pay for preventive measures

Contribution to policy development:

ESPREME aims to develop tools and methods to support Europe’s environmental policy-makers. Its results will:

  • Contribute to the EU Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution (Clean Air for Europe programme - CAFE)
  • Provide information for the revision of the Directive on heavy metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons
  • Feed into the implementation of the Mercury Strategy
  • Provide details for the heavy metals protocol of the UNECE Convention on long-range trans-boundary air pollution
  • Provide information for the review of the list of priority substances under the Water Framework Directive

Project deliverables

  • An inventory dataset for the six heavy metals in the study – End June 2004
  • An analysis of abatement options for the heavy metals – End September 2004
  • Maps that show the concentration of heavy metals in the atmosphere and at ground level – End May 2005
  • An assessment of available models and databases for their ability to analyse the macro-economic effects of heavy metal abatement strategies – End December 2006


  • Stakeholder workshop at end of project’s first year – End February 2005
  • Build website, including a ‘data exchange platform’ – From January 2004
  • Writing in scientific journals and European Commission publications – Throughout project
  • Publishing reports on abatement strategies – Between end February 2006 and end June 2006

Technical information

Project acronym: ESPREME
Project’s official full title: Estimation of willingness-to-pay to reduce the risks of exposure to heavy metals and cost-benefit analysis for reducing heavy metals occurrence in Europe
Research priority: 1.6. Assessment of environmental technologies for support of policy decisions, in particular concerning effective but low-cost technologies in the context of fulfilling environmental legislation
Specific webpage: Not available
Proposal/contract no: 502527
Start date: 01/01/2004
Kick off meeting: 02-03/02/2004
Completion date: end of March 2007
European Commission scientific officer: Tuomo Karjalainen,

Name: Institute of Energy, Economics and the Rational Use of Energy, University of Stuttgart (Professor Rainer Friedrich)
Abbreviated Name: USTUTT
Address: Hessbruehlstrasse 49a, D-70565 Stuttgart
Country: Germany
Tel: +49 711 780 61 12
Fax: +49 711 780 39 53


Name: Norwegian Institute for Air Research
Abbreviated Name: NILU
Country: Norway

Name: Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas
Abbreviated Name: IETU
Country: Poland

Name: Swedish Environmental Research Institute
Abbreviated Name: IVL
Country: Sweden

Name: Institute of Occupational Medicine
Abbreviated Name: IOM
Country: United Kingdom

Name: EMEP Meteorological Synthesising Centre – East
Abbreviated Name: MSC-E
Country: International

Name: Institute for Atmospheric Pollution
Abbreviated Name: CNR-IIA
Country: Italy

Name: Czech Hydrometeorological Institute
Abbreviated Name: CHMI
Country: Czech Republic

Abbreviated Name: ETZEL
Country: Hungary

Name: NILU Polska
Abbreviated Name: NILU_POL
Country: Poland