Act for our health and the Ocean’s


Chemical pollution and water quality in Europe

Representing 70 000 kilometers of coastlines, Europe’s recreational waters are more and more visited. Swimmers, surfers, and random sea enthusiasts enjoy the benefits that any seaside activities can procure. However, they don't come without a risk: people are being exposed to micro pollutant chemicals found in the Ocean. Even though it’s invisible, chemical pollution is an important threat to marine wildlife and human health.

Heavy metals, hydrocarbons, drug residues, pesticides or fertilizers are as many pollutants that are found in water streams and oceans. In Europe, only 38% of surface water (rivers, lakes, transitional water and coastlines) are considered in good chemical condition. According to the latest report of INERIS (National institute for the industrial environment and consequent risks) in collaboration with the OFB (French Office for Biodiversity) on chemical substances in water: metals, metalloids and minerals are the most frequent substances quantified in water in mainland France as well as in the Overseas Department and Territories.

Not only is it toxic for the Ocean, but chemical pollution can represent a risk for our health. Maybe you’re among the many people who have already suffered the consequences of polluted water. The long list of possible illnesses includes: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, fiever, respiratory infections, hepatitis, infections of the ear, eye, nose or throat. Salmonellose, cholera and deathly diseases can also be found in very toxic water. Faced with this assessment, Surfrider Foundation Europe has decided to act.

Solutions to move forward, starting now

Being an expert in water quality for the last thirty years, Surfrider Foundation Europe has asked that the European Bathing Water Directive be reevaluated. Currently, the control of water quality is not taking into account chemical, biological or physical pollution, and is not evaluating water sports dedicated areas. The EU has launched a citizen consultation to review that directive, and the stakes are now high. Participating in that consultation, open until January 20th, will enable reinforcing water quality control in Europe, in order to protect the ocean and all watermen.

On the ground too, solutions exist to fight Ocean chemical pollution. Surfrider Foundation Europe has equipped volunteer swimmers and surfers with sensor kits to collect data on chemical pollutants that can be found in the water. That innovative project of participative sciences named CURL aims at finding out more information about the level of chemical exposure for swimmers and surfers. The CURL project is guided by ecotoxicologists from IFREMER (French Institute of Research for Sea Exploitation) and EPOC (Oceanic and Continental Environments and Paleoenvironments) laboratory scientists. Together, and until Spring 2022, they will work to analyze the data collected by the sensors. CURL will allow us to alert decision makers on the risks caused by chemical pollution, and move European legislation on that topic.

If you want to act for the wellbeing of our Oceans too, for your health, and the health of swimmers and water sportsmen, take part in the EU citizen consultation. There is still time to act.

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The passion for the oceans, the coastline and the pleasures animate everyone who supports Surfrider and guides the organization's action.


Surfrider is rooted in the value of sharing and participation through inclusion and diversity.


Surfrider seeks a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.