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Fig. 1: The blaze in Schweizerhalle resulted in catastrophic environmental pollution. Thirty years on, however, the overall picture in terms of water protection is a positive one.
October 31, 2016

On 1 November 1986, a chemical warehouse at Schweizerhalle near Basel was destroyed by a fire. Aquatic life in the Rhine suffered catastrophic damage as a result of inflows of toxic, red-coloured firefighting water. Read more

Ozone generator at a WWTP. (Photo: Urs von Gunten)
October 25, 2016

In the coming years, around a hundred wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) across Switzerland are to be upgraded with an additional treatment step in order to eliminate micropollutants. The method of choice is often ozonation. Read more

Maldi-MSI imaging method visualises cocaine accumulation in zebrafish.
September 29, 2016

A study by Eawag and Zurich University researchers using a new imaging method has revealed that, surprisingly, cocaine accumulates in the eyes of zebrafish. The findings indicate that chemicals – especially psychoactive drugs – need to be assessed quite differently with waterborne exposure than, for example, when pharmaceutical substances are tested in mice. In particular, the uptake mechanisms and effects of cocaine in fish cannot simply be transferred to mammals or humans. Read more

Abb. 1: Während sechs Tagen arbeiteten die Studierenden in 18 interdisziplinären Gruppen an ihrer Problemdefinition und praktischen Lösungsansätzen. (Foto: ETH Zürich / Alessandro Della Bella)
September 27, 2016

Together with Eawag, the ETH organized at the beginning of September 2016 the second ETH Week. More than 180 students from 20 countries and all 16 departments accepted the challenge of formulating problems on the theme “Challenging Water” and searching for sustainable solutions. Read more

Fig. 1: The diverse demands placed on lakes were reflected by the wide variety of topics discussed at Eawag’s Info Day in Lucerne. (Photo: Peter Penicka)
September 16, 2016

Switzerland’s lakes are not only diverse ecosystems, but also recreation sites, fishing grounds and energy sources. At this year’s Info Day, the tensions between these competing interests were explored. It was concluded that sustainable management calls for an understanding of the complex interactions occurring in lakes – which in turn requires scientific data and appropriate methods of observation. Read more

Fig. 1: Gammarus alpinus preserved in alcohol: the distinctive morphological features of this amphipod species are only apparent under the microscope. (Photo: Roman Alther)
September 8, 2016

Biologists at Eawag have described a new amphipod species which is endemic to the Alps. While alpine lakes provide relatively undisturbed habitats for Gammarus alpinus, this species is being displaced by an invasive amphipod in Lake Constance. Read more

Scientist looking in the lake with an aquascope. Photo: Eawag, Aldo Todaro
September 6, 2016

Lakes are major ecosystems. Their secrets have been investigated in Switzerland for more than 100 years. Nonetheless, scientists and their partners at the federal and cantonal specialist departments can still be surprised. For example, a fish in Lake Constance that had been declared extinct, or the results of Roman forest clearing around Lake Murten or concentrated antibiotic-resistant genes in the vicinity of wastewater discharges in Lake Geneva. Read more

Bailed sample for DNA analysis (Photo: Eawag)
August 30, 2016

“We should soon be able to monitor biodiversity just as we can now assess water chemistry,” says Florian Altermatt of the Aquatic Ecology department. Genetic material is known to be continuously released into the environment (eDNA) – e.g. in faeces or skin cells – and the biologists now demonstrated the practicability of this approach. In one litre water from the Glatt river (Canton Zurich), they identified numerous species ranging from the mayfly to the beaver. The method can be automated. Read more

Current approaches often focus on the protection of rare or endangered species like the Kingfisher.  Photo: plainpicture/NaturePL
August 23, 2016

Despite extensive conservation efforts, the global loss of biodiversity is continuing. According to an article by biologists at Eawag and Zurich University, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, this is partly due to the inadequacy of existing conservation measures. Read more

Fig. 1: Are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump less far apart politically than they might believe? At Trump’s wedding in 2005, at any rate, there was no sign of the bitter rivalry that now divides the two US presidential candidates.
August 17, 2016

Political actors tend to perceive their opponents as more influential than they really are, and to overestimate the differences between opposing groups. As a result, policy‑making and the search for feasible compromises become more difficult. This phenomenon, as Eawag political scientists have now shown, is apparent even in a consensus-based democracy like Switzerland. Read more