Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


The PreEMPT (Pre-empting pollution by screening for possible risks) project provides the basis for the first regional and coordinated screening for hazardous substances across the Baltic Sea.

It has become clear and widely accepted that evaluating the status of the marine environment cannot be achieved only through the evaluation of a relatively small number of well-known priority substances. While evaluating priority substances is vital in environmental management to allow the identification of key substances, to facilitate the implementation of suitable precautionary measures and to address any changes, it is also critical that we gain a broad overview of all new and emerging substances that may cause harm.  

An overview of the pool, or potential pool, of substances with potential to cause harm can therefore allow a more holistic understanding, as well as support faster and more precautionary (pre-emptive) management to protect the Baltic Sea environment.

The work is carried out in close cooperation with the NORMAN Network. The project is co-financed by the NEFCO Baltic Sea Action Plan Fund and varying co-contributions from the HELCOM Contracting Parties.


The project focuses on a harmonised selection of sampling matrices to provide the most comparable overview possible. End points where contaminants may accumulate (e.g., sediments and biota) have been considered as important. To this effect, mussels are selected as a key sampling matrix, with fish or sediments also utilised, especially in circumstances where species distribution prevents sampling in a primary matrix.

The spatial coverage is achieved based on an agreement to share the available samples amongst all Contracting Parties, based on an allocation reflecting the estimate of the Baltic Sea surface under national jurisdiction. This also ensures a broad spatial coverage across the entire region. Additional nationally funded samples will make up the total number of samples, which is anticipated to be around 100. Samples from all coastal HELCOM countries are provided for the study.


The results of this study provide a semi-quantitative evaluation of circa 2,500 substances from target screening and a more qualitative evaluation of more than 65,000 substances via non-target screening. The results will be provided as a regional overview as well as a summary per Contracting Party.

The results will provide an overview of regularity of detection for compounds and, where available, exceedances of environmental threshold values representing an evaluation of risk, as well as an overview of new or emerging substances that may require follow up action, prioritisation, or measures in the Baltic Sea.

A HELCOM regional report and potential surveillance indicator to provide added input from the project will also be explored.

Project duration

PreEMPT project will run from July 2021 to June 2023.


Mock Employee
Owen Rowe

HELCOM Indicator manager