Department Environmental Chemistry

On the trail of pollutants

Our research team studies the presence, distribution and fate of organic pollutants in the aquatic environment. The focus of our research is on substance flux from urban areas and from agriculture, and the main tools that we use for this work are trace analysis, field and laboratory studies and modelling.

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Latest publications

Benateau, S.; Gaudard, A.; Stamm, C.; Altermatt, F. (2019) Climate change and freshwater ecosystems. Impacts on water quality and ecological status, 111 p, Institutional Repository
Palzes, V. A.; Sagiv, S. K.; Baker, J. M.; Rojas-Valverde, D.; Gutiérrez-Vargas, R.; Winkler, M. S.; Fuhrimann, S.; Staudacher, P.; Menezes-Filho, J. A.; Reiss, A. L.; Eskenazi, B.; Mora, A. M. (2019) Manganese exposure and working memory-related brain activity in smallholder farmworkers in Costa Rica: results from a pilot study, Environmental Research, 173, 539-548, doi:10.1016/j.envres.2019.04.006, Institutional Repository
Mechelke, J.; Longrée, P.; Singer, H.; Hollender, J. (2019) Vacuum-assisted evaporative concentration combined with LC-HRMS/MS for ultra-trace-level screening of organic micropollutants in environmental water samples, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, doi:10.1007/s00216-019-01696-3, Institutional Repository
Fuhrimann, S.; Winkler, M. S.; Staudacher, P.; Weiss, F. T.; Stamm, C.; Eggen, R. I.; Lindh, C. H.; Menezes-Filho, J. A.; Baker, J. M.; Ramírez-Muñoz, F.; Gutiérrez-Vargas, R.; Mora, A. M. (2019) Exposure to pesticides and health effects on farm owners and workers from conventional and organic agricultural farms in Costa Rica: protocol for a cross-sectional study, JMIR Research Protocols, 8(1), e10914 (13 pp.), doi:10.2196/10914, Institutional Repository


Excessive levels of plant protection products in small streams

Collection of samples on the Eschelisbach, Thurgau (Photo: Eawag Esther Michel)
Collection of samples on the Eschelisbach, Thurgau (Photo: Eawag Esther Michel)

April 2, 2019
Two studies by Eawag and the Ecotox Centre have once again shown that surface waters in agricultural catchment areas are heavily contaminated with plant protection products. Concentrations of individual substances persisting for several months pose a risk of chronic toxicity and, for extended periods, exceed the levels at which a risk of acute toxicity exists for aquatic plants and organisms. In most of the samples, 30 or more different active ingredients were detected. Studies of stream biodiversity and bioassays confirmed the threat posed by these mixtures of substances... [read more]

Selected and representative research projects

Comprehensive monitoring of organic trace substances in surface waters is time-consuming and costly. The NAWA SPEZ project delivers data and analyses on the status of water pollution.
Predicting environment-specific biotransformation of chemical contaminants
The screening of aquatic systems for known and unknown polar and semi-polar organic micropollutants relies heavily on analytical chemistry, foremost high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) coupled to liquid chromatography (LC)....
Pilot scale advanced treatment of wastewater with granular activated carbon (GAC) and combined with ozonation (O3/GAC) at WWTP Glarnerland