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Bioassays for the routine assessment of water quality

The Ecotoxicology module aimed at developing a robust concept for the routine assessment of water quality based on bioassays. These methods, which allow an integrated ecotoxicological assessment of substance mixtures in water samples, can support cantonal water protection authorities when assessing water quality. The project was conducted in collaboration between the Federal Office for the Environment and the Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology Eawag-EPFL. It was accompanied by an expert panel from private environmental consulting companies, cantonal water protection authorities and research institutions.

Two expert reports have now been published as a result of work conducted on the Ecotoxicology module: The first one provides a comprehensive overview of currently available bioassays and their applicability to routine water quality monitoring. The second one is a guideline for water quality assessment in rivers and streams impacted by treated wastewater using two different bioassays. These assays allow an integrated assessment of the presence and toxicity of chemical mixtures in water samples for estrogenic and photosystem II inhibiting substances. They are valuable tools for screening water samples or complementing chemical analysis. For monitoring of estrogenic substances, bioassays are often more sensitive than current chemical-analytical methods, and provide information on the combined estrogenicity of chemical mixtures at eco-toxicologically relevant concentrations.

You can find further information regarding water quality assessments with ecotoxicological biotests here.



Test von Abwässern auf hormonelle Wirkung mit genetisch veränderten Hefezellen

Estrogenic effect of wastewater from different sources on recombinant yeast cells: Dark test tubes: estrogenic effect, Light test tubes: no estrogenic effect.
A. Schifferli, Oekotoxzentrum

Expert reports
  • Überblick über Methoden zur Beurteilung der Wasserqualität anhand ökotoxikologischer Biotests [PDF]
  • Arbeitsanleitung zur Grobbeurteilung der Wasserqualität anhand ökotoxikologischer Biotests [PDF]

(Documents available in German)