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Caitlin Proctor and Frederik Hammes investigating biofilms in shower hoses. (Photo: Eawag, Aldo Todaro)
February 15, 2018

A shower hose will often contain more bacteria than the rest of the building’s plumbing system. A research team led by Frederik Hammes has been investigating this topic for the past four years. In their latest study, they analysed biofilms in 78 shower hoses from 11 countries, and in 21 of them, they detected legionella – a potential pathogen. In this interview, Hammes explains why we should not be unduly concerned. Read more

DNA sampling from a sediment core in the safe lab (Photo: Peter Penicka, Eawag)
December 11, 2017

The composition of cyanobacterial communities in peri-alpine lakes has become increasingly similar over the past century. Climate warming and a period of eutrophication have favoured in particular potentially toxic species which can adapt rapidly to environmental changes. These are the findings of an Eawag-led study analysing DNA extracted from sediment cores. Read more

Sampling sediment cores on Greifensee near Zurich (photo: Aurea Chiaia, Eawag).
October 26, 2017

Humans have so profoundly altered the Earth that, some scientists argue, our current geologic epoch requires a new name: the Anthropocene. But defining the precise start of the era is tricky. Would it begin with the spread of domesticated farm animals or the appearance of radioactive elements from nuclear bomb tests?  Read more

If large amounts of organic carbon compounds are leached from plastic pipes into water, strong bacterial growth occurs even with regular flushing. (Photo: Vario Images)
October 23, 2017

Although bacteria are an inevitable – and important – component of drinking water, the colonization of pipes by pathogenic organisms can lead to microbiological quality problems. However, according to an Eawag/HSLU project co-funded by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), various measures can be taken to minimise this risk.  Read more

Resistant bacteria can grow in an antibiotic-treated culture medium. (Photo: Helmut Bürgmann, Eawag)
October 18, 2017

Compared to other foodstuffs, Switzerland’s drinking water shows low levels of contamination with antibiotic-resistant bacteria or resistance genes. This was demonstrated in a study of eight drinking water systems carried out by Eawag researchers on behalf of the Swiss Gas and Water Industry Association (SVGW) and water suppliers. Read more

Many years after pesticides are applied, residues can still be detected in soils. (Photo: Markus Bolliger, FOEN)
October 12, 2017

According to a study funded by the Federal Office for the Environment, pesticides or transformation products can persist in soils for a decade or more. In the study, Eawag and Agroscope scientists analysed topsoil samples collected from 14 agricultural sites between 1995 and 2008 as part of the Swiss Soil Monitoring Network programme.  Read more

Sampling at the Werdhölzli treatment plant in Zurich. (Photo: Eawag, Elke Suess)
October 10, 2017

A study just published by Eawag scientists shows that gold and silver each amounting to around CHF 1.5 million a year are lost via effluents and sludge from wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland. The concentrations measured do not pose risks to the environment – and recycling would not be economically worthwhile. However, the study also produced surprising findings on other trace elements in wastewater, including rare earth metals such as gadolinium and the heavy metal niobium. Read more

Antifouling treatment protects submerged surfaces from attachment of unwanted organisms. Photo: Limnomar, CC-BY-SA 4.0
September 27, 2017

In order to protect ship hulls and other surfaces exposed to water from algae, molluscs and crustaceans, they are coated with so-called antifouling biocides. Such biocides do not only protect the surfaces, however, but are often leached into the environment and can harm other life forms.  Read more

The list of adverse effects caused by agriculture to waterbodies is a long one. Photo: Markus Zeh
September 5, 2017

Dried-up ponds, culverted streams, contamination with fertilisers and pesticides – the list of adverse effects caused by agriculture to water and waterbodies is a long one. Shortening this list is a major challenge, not only for agriculture but also for society as a whole. Supplying humanity with food is, after all, equally important. At the Eawag Info Day, experts demonstrated that the conflicts between use and protection can be addressed through objective dialogue, transparently stated goals and a broad raft of measures. Read more

Collection of samples from a groundwater pump in the Gujrat district of Punjab province (Photo: Tasawar Khanam, COMSATS)
August 23, 2017

Arsenic-contaminated groundwater used as drinking water or for irrigation may threaten the health of 50 to 60 million people in Pakistan. This is shown by an Eawag-led study – co-financed by SDC – in which data from 1200 groundwater samples was analysed and combined with geological and hydrological parameters to generate a hazard map. Read more

Photo: Aldo Todaro
June 29, 2016

In recent decades, Swiss water protection efforts have focused on reducing nutrient inputs; today, one of the main concerns is controlling micropollutants. Read more