Micropollutants are organic trace compounds or heavy metals which occur in the aquatic environment at very low concentrations. They are brought into waters through various entry paths and sectors such as industry, agriculture or households. Human activities such as farming, industrial production, cleaning, medicine (pharmaceuticals) or hygiene are thus at the source of micropollutants in aquatic ecosystems.
Micropollutants can enter water bodies via point sources (e.g. overflows from wastewater treatment plants) or diffuse sources (e.g. run-off from agricultural or urban areas). At the Environmental Social Sciences Department, we do not conceive micropollutants as a purely technical issue, but mainly as a social one. The core question is not how micropollutants can be eliminated but how individuals and the society can live with the unavoidable uncertainty related to micropollutants and what measures are perceived as adequate or sufficient for dealing with the problem.