efe-epaCiudad Real, Spain

More than 60 researchers from two-dozen European countries are meeting in this central Spanish city starting Monday to begin coordinating efforts to monitor environmental contaminants in European raptors.

The initiative, known as the European Raptor Biomonitoring Facility (ERBFacility) Cost Action, will use these birds of prey as sentinels to help evaluate the risks associated with persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic compounds.

Environmental contaminants impose billions of euros of costs on human and wildlife health.

This project will attempt to reduce these costs through actions that include more effective evaluation of chemicals laws and more reliable risk assessment of compounds, sources with the Ciudad Real-based Institute for Game and Wildlife Research (IREC), which is hosting the first ERBFacility Cost Action meeting through Feb. 22, told EFE Monday.

The IREC is a Spanish scientific center jointly owned by the Spanish National Research Council, Spain's largest public research institution; the University of Castilla-La Mancha; and the government of the central Spanish autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha.

The researchers taking part in this first ERBFacility Cost Action meeting work on different aspects of the biomonitoring of pollutants in raptors, from sample collection in the field to toxicological analysis and biobanks.

The use of raptors for risk assessment will help determine if effective legislation is in place for reducing environmental exposure to contaminants in Europe, identify the environmental risks of specific chemicals and evaluate whether emerging contaminant problems exist that require corrective measures.