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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Switzerland News - Mitholz Ammunition Depot Toxic traces in the water

March 3, 2021
Traces of toxic explosive compounds such as TNT and its transformation products were found downstream of the former ammunition storage site in Mitholz. Plans for site remediation and the complex hydrogeology of the Kander valley raise concerns about future water contamination.
See reporting  on Swiss television. Only available in Swiss German.

Photo: Eawag, Urs Schönenberger
Here, water from several inlet shafts converges before flowing directly into the nearby stream. (Photo: Eawag, Urs Schönenberger)

Shortcuts lead to greater pesticide contamination

November 3, 2020
In agricultural areas, large volumes of water from fields, roads and paths drain directly into streams via manholes and other forms of artificial drainage. These shortcuts also transport pesticides into surface waters – and, according to a new study, in significantly larger quantities than was previously assumed. read more


Sediementcore from Greifensee (Photo: Eawag, Schmid)
Sediementcore from Greifensee
(Photo: Eawag, Schmid)

Early Recognition of Pollutants in Soils and Sediments

September 02, 2020
Researchers from Agroscope, Eawag and ETH have developed a method for the comprehensive detection of organic pollutant residues in soils and sediments. Initial results show that, in addition to known substances, there are also a number of substances detected for the first time.  read more

Latest publications

Kiefer, K.; Du, L.; Singer, H.; Hollender, J. (2021) Identification of LC-HRMS nontarget signals in groundwater after source related prioritization, Water Research, 196, 116994 (12 pp.), doi:10.1016/j.watres.2021.116994, Institutional Repository
Fuhrimann, S.; Farnham, A.; Staudacher, P.; Atuhaire, A.; Manfioletti, T.; Niwagaba, C. B.; Namirembe, S.; Mugweri, J.; Winkler, M. S.; Portengen, L.; Kromhout, H.; Mora, A. M. (2021) Exposure to multiple pesticides and neurobehavioral outcomes among smallholder farmers in Uganda, Environment International, 152, 106477 (10 pp.), doi:10.1016/j.envint.2021.106477, Institutional Repository
Desiante, W. L.; Minas, N. S.; Fenner, K. (2021) Micropollutant biotransformation and bioaccumulation in natural stream biofilms, Water Research, 193, 116846 (11 pp.), doi:10.1016/j.watres.2021.116846, Institutional Repository
Mairinger, T.; Loos, M.; Hollender, J. (2021) Characterization of water-soluble synthetic polymeric substances in wastewater using LC-HRMS/MS, Water Research, 190, 116745 (11 pp.), doi:10.1016/j.watres.2020.116745, Institutional Repository