Department Environmental Chemistry

News 2022

December 15, 2022 –

Work is currently underway in Montreal at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) to negotiate a framework agreement to preserve biodiversity. In addition to pesticides, nutrients and plastic waste, certain other chemicals ought...

Work is currently underway in Montreal at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) to negotiate a framework agreement to preserve biodiversity. In addition to pesticides, nutrients and plastic waste, certain other chemicals ought to be restricted in their production and use, or replaced by less problematic substances, according to a recommendation by a group of scientists, including an environmental toxicologist from Eawag.

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December 2, 2022 –

How can the use of scientific knowledge be promoted in policy and practice to make plant protection more sustainable?

How can the use of scientific knowledge be promoted in policy and practice to make plant protection more sustainable?

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November 24, 2022 –

Together with the Canton of St. Gallen, Eawag has been investigating the impact of the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant at Flawil to include a stage for the removal of micropollutants on water quality in the River...

Together with the Canton of St. Gallen, Eawag has been investigating the impact of the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant at Flawil to include a stage for the removal of micropollutants on water quality in the River Glatt. Initial results now show a very positive picture.

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November 21, 2022 –

Eawag researchers Wenzel Gruber and Urs Schönenberger have won this year's Otto Jaag Water Protection Prize for their dissertations. Reducing emissions of the climate-damaging nitrous oxide from wastewater treatment plants and...

Eawag researchers Wenzel Gruber and Urs Schönenberger have won this year's Otto Jaag Water Protection Prize for their dissertations. Reducing emissions of the climate-damaging nitrous oxide from wastewater treatment plants and reducing the leaching of pesticides from drainage systems are the topics.

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July 19, 2022 –

Even though industrial wastewater is treated at state-of-the art plants, the sheer variety of synthetic organic compounds from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry which end up in surface waters are seriously underestimated....

Even though industrial wastewater is treated at state-of-the art plants, the sheer variety of synthetic organic compounds from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry which end up in surface waters are seriously underestimated. This is shown by a new study carried out by Eawag and ETH Zurich.

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June 16, 2022 –

It is no secret that climate change has a serious impact on the quality and ecology of aquatic environments. Researchers at Eawag have revealed that human responses to climate change are just as impactful on our water systems –...

It is no secret that climate change has a serious impact on the quality and ecology of aquatic environments. Researchers at Eawag have revealed that human responses to climate change are just as impactful on our water systems – for example, in the areas of agriculture and hydropower.

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May 2, 2022 –

Ozonation is an established treatment process to remove micropollutants from wastewater. However, since unstable toxic reaction products can be formed in the process, biological post-treatment is necessary. Results from the Ecotox...

Ozonation is an established treatment process to remove micropollutants from wastewater. However, since unstable toxic reaction products can be formed in the process, biological post-treatment is necessary. Results from the Ecotox Centre and Eawag show how well different post-treatment methods reduce ecotoxicological effects. The combination of ozonation and activated carbon proved to be the most effective.

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April 7, 2022 –

With the support of Eawag, experts from the VSA platform "Process Engineering for Micropollutants" investigated the inputs of substances from industry and commerce into waterbodies. The nationwide analysis shows that treated...

With the support of Eawag, experts from the VSA platform "Process Engineering for Micropollutants" investigated the inputs of substances from industry and commerce into waterbodies. The nationwide analysis shows that treated wastewater from businesses also contains micropollutants that enter waterbodies.

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April 6, 2022 –

In a documentary on pesticides in Swiss surface waters, the SRF programme 10vor10 reported on new research results from the Environmental Chemistry Department.

In a documentary on pesticides in Swiss surface waters, the SRF programme 10vor10 reported on new research results from the Environmental Chemistry Department.

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January 28, 2022 –

A river with chemically polluted sediments at its bottom is missing a crucial habitat. However, until now there has been no uniform method for monitoring the quality of sediments. On behalf of the Federal Office for the...

A river with chemically polluted sediments at its bottom is missing a crucial habitat. However, until now there has been no uniform method for monitoring the quality of sediments. On behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment, experts from the Ecotox Centre and Eawag have now developed a proposal for this.

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January 12, 2022 –

All living organisms that respire have to get rid of electrons. In oxygen-free environments, microorganisms deploy special molecules which act as extracellular electron shuttles to transfer the electrons from cells to minerals. A...

All living organisms that respire have to get rid of electrons. In oxygen-free environments, microorganisms deploy special molecules which act as extracellular electron shuttles to transfer the electrons from cells to minerals. A group of researchers has now discovered what determines the electron transfer efficiency of these “taxi” cars: the energy differences of the transported electrons.

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2021

December 7, 2021 –

With around 200 pictures and texts, the new Water Timeline takes you through 200 years of the eventful history of Swiss water protection. It aims to show how shifts towards more sustainable management of natural resources can be...

With around 200 pictures and texts, the new Water Timeline takes you through 200 years of the eventful history of Swiss water protection. It aims to show how shifts towards more sustainable management of natural resources can be shaped. 

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November 23, 2021 –

Researchers Christoph Vorburger and Florian Altermatt talk about the importance and state of aquatic biodiversity in Switzerland and Eawag’s commitment to conserving natural biodiversity.

Researchers Christoph Vorburger and Florian Altermatt talk about the importance and state of aquatic biodiversity in Switzerland and Eawag’s commitment to conserving natural biodiversity.

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November 16, 2021 –

Researchers Juliane Hollender, Bernhard Truffer and Urs von Gunten from the aquatic research institute Eawag are among the "highly cited researchers 2021".

Researchers Juliane Hollender, Bernhard Truffer and Urs von Gunten from the aquatic research institute Eawag are among the "highly cited researchers 2021".

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October 18, 2021 –

The environmental chemist Barbara F. Günthardt and the two environmental engineers Matthew Moy de Vitry and Marius Neamtu are awarded the ETH Medal for their doctoral theses. Plant toxins, urban flooding and complicated flows were...

The environmental chemist Barbara F. Günthardt and the two environmental engineers Matthew Moy de Vitry and Marius Neamtu are awarded the ETH Medal for their doctoral theses. Plant toxins, urban flooding and complicated flows were the topics. Congratulations!

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July 15, 2021 –

Open Science is an important development in science - open access to the results of research. Eawag supports these and makes a growing part of its research data, including descriptions, images and even software, available publicly...

Open Science is an important development in science - open access to the results of research. Eawag supports these and makes a growing part of its research data, including descriptions, images and even software, available publicly and free of charge on the Eawag platform ERIC or, in special cases, on discipline-specific, international databases. ERIC complements the long-standing platform DORA for scientific publications.

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June 9, 2021 –

With the latest analytical methods, potentially toxic substances can be detected even at very low concentrations. However, the aim of research is not merely to document such contamination but also to understand how it occurs in...

With the latest analytical methods, potentially toxic substances can be detected even at very low concentrations. However, the aim of research is not merely to document such contamination but also to understand how it occurs in streams and groundwater, and to propose mitigation measures.

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March 22, 2021 –

The motto of today’s World Water Day is “Valuing water – What means water to you?”. With this motto, the United Nations wants to raise awareness of the vital importance of water and call on people to think about the value of...

The motto of today’s World Water Day is “Valuing water – What means water to you?”. With this motto, the United Nations wants to raise awareness of the vital importance of water and call on people to think about the value of water. In an interview, Eawag Director Janet Hering explains the importance of water for the aquatic research institute Eawag and also her personally.

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March 3, 2021 –

New pharmaceuticals are being launched on the market all the time. It is of course their effectiveness in people’s health that is of central importance here, but at some point, their active ingredients or traces of them wind up in...

New pharmaceuticals are being launched on the market all the time. It is of course their effectiveness in people’s health that is of central importance here, but at some point, their active ingredients or traces of them wind up in the environment, where they can have negative consequences. A large-scale EU project in which Eawag is also participating is now trying to help ensure that possible environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals are recognised by the pharmaceutical industry and the relevant approval bodies in the early stages of a drug’s development.

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2020

December 4, 2020 –

The mobile and automated MS2field mass spectrometer allows measurements to be taken of harmful substances in surface waters with high temporal resolution. The initial measurements using the device are revealing the extent to which...

The mobile and automated MS2field mass spectrometer allows measurements to be taken of harmful substances in surface waters with high temporal resolution. The initial measurements using the device are revealing the extent to which peak concentrations of pesticides, for example, have been underestimated by traditional methods.

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November 18, 2020 –

Researchers Juliane Hollender, Ole Seehausen, Bernhard Truffer and Urs von Gunten from the aquatic research institute Eawag are among the "highly cited researchers 2020".

Researchers Juliane Hollender, Ole Seehausen, Bernhard Truffer and Urs von Gunten from the aquatic research institute Eawag are among the "highly cited researchers 2020".

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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,...

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.

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September 2, 2020 –

Researchers from Agroscope, Eawag, University of Bern 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...

Researchers from Agroscope, Eawag, University of Bern 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.

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August 17, 2020 –

Blue-green algae are very common both in the water and on land. Sporadically, they occur in lakes on the surface in such large numbers that one speaks of a bloom. Because there are species that can produce toxic substances, many...

Blue-green algae are very common both in the water and on land. Sporadically, they occur in lakes on the surface in such large numbers that one speaks of a bloom. Because there are species that can produce toxic substances, many questions arise.

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July 20, 2020 –

In addition to ozonation, filters using granulated activated carbon (GAC) are increasingly being deployed to eliminate trace substances from municipal wastewater. Working in conjunction with authorities and representatives from...

In addition to ozonation, filters using granulated activated carbon (GAC) are increasingly being deployed to eliminate trace substances from municipal wastewater. Working in conjunction with authorities and representatives from the field, Eawag has developed a document that will assist stakeholders with planning in relation to such measures.

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July 9, 2020 –

The Verband zum Schutz des Greifensees (VGS) (Association for the Preservation of Lake Greifensee) elected its new Council of Delegates on 25 June 2020. In addition to representatives of all municipalities surrounding the lake,...

The Verband zum Schutz des Greifensees (VGS) (Association for the Preservation of Lake Greifensee) elected its new Council of Delegates on 25 June 2020. In addition to representatives of all municipalities surrounding the lake, the committee also includes cantonal agencies, farmers, fishermen, sailors and – for the first time – a research representative, with the election of Eawag’s Piet Spaak as an aquatic ecologist.

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June 10, 2020 –

Thanks to a new instrument, water pollutants can be measured automatically over a period of weeks – directly in the field, rather than in the laboratory. The mobile mass spectrometer is housed in a trailer and can be remotely...

Thanks to a new instrument, water pollutants can be measured automatically over a period of weeks – directly in the field, rather than in the laboratory. The mobile mass spectrometer is housed in a trailer and can be remotely controlled by smartphone.

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May 25, 2020 –

126 Swiss researchers, including 6 from Eawag, want to draw the attention their Swiss compatriots to the scientific evidence showing the link between the emergence of pandemics and human disturbance of the natural environment.

126 Swiss researchers, including 6 from Eawag, want to draw the attention their Swiss compatriots to the scientific evidence showing the link between the emergence of pandemics and human disturbance of the natural environment.

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May 12, 2020 –

Every year, the Swiss National Science Foundation launches a photography competition to select the best images from the world of science. In the category "The Research Project" the collage of a joint research project of Eawag and...

Every year, the Swiss National Science Foundation launches a photography competition to select the best images from the world of science. In the category "The Research Project" the collage of a joint research project of Eawag and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute was recognized.

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April 28, 2020 –

The active ingredient diclofenac contained in various painkillers is hardly degraded at all in wastewater treatment plants and therefore accumulates in surface waters. There, amphipods convert diclofenac into a more toxic...

The active ingredient diclofenac contained in various painkillers is hardly degraded at all in wastewater treatment plants and therefore accumulates in surface waters. There, amphipods convert diclofenac into a more toxic substance, namely diclofenac methyl ester, as shown in a study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag).

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March 31, 2020 –

Using a simple but ingenious strategy, a research team has successfully demonstrated how water quality downstream of wastewater treatment plants is influenced by a single pharmaceutical manufacturing site: as variations in the...

Using a simple but ingenious strategy, a research team has successfully demonstrated how water quality downstream of wastewater treatment plants is influenced by a single pharmaceutical manufacturing site: as variations in the concentrations of compounds over time are dependent on production cycles, it is possible to distinguish between industrial and household emissions – even a long way downstream.

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February 20, 2020 –

Degradation products of the fungal agent chlorothalonil are found widely in groundwater on the Swiss Plateau, even in places where it is used as drinking water. Dealing with these substances is becoming a challenge for waterworks....

Degradation products of the fungal agent chlorothalonil are found widely in groundwater on the Swiss Plateau, even in places where it is used as drinking water. Dealing with these substances is becoming a challenge for waterworks. There is a wide range between rash immediate measures and concealing the problem. An Eawag fact sheet serves to contribute to an objective discussion and longer-term strategies.

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Contact

Aduccia Sciacovelli Head and management assistant Tel. +41 58 765 5425 Send Mail

Pesticides Transformation products pollute groundwater August 15, 2019

Swiss groundwater contains numerous pesticide degradation products. This has been discovered by an extensive screening by Eawag and ETH Zurich. The transformation products (metabolites) originate predominantly from pesticides from agriculture. read more

 

Contact

Prof. Dr. Juliane Hollender Head of Department Tel. +41 58 765 5493 Send Mail

Getting into murky waters: Blue-green algae produce cocktail of potential toxins March 26, 2019

Freshwater lakes are teeming with blue-green algae that produce a heady cocktail of substances. Little is known as yet about the health risks associated with these substances, although a review of the literature by Eawag scientist Elisabeth Janssen has now revealed some potentially harmful effects. read more

 

Contact

Dr. Elisabeth Janssen Senior Scientist / group leader (she/her) Tel. +41 58 765 5428 Send Mail

Surprising discovery of pollutants in gammarids December 3, 2018

Amphipods in Swiss waters are exposed to insecticides, pharmaceutical residues and other trace substances, and accumulate these in their bodies. However, when water-treatment plants are upgraded, practically no trace substances are found in these organisms according to a new study carried out by Eawag researchers. read more

 

Contact

Prof. Dr. Juliane Hollender Head of Department Tel. +41 58 765 5493 Send Mail

Eawag water experts contributing to a new online course 02. November 2017

Christian Stamm and Alfred Johny Wüest are lecturing along with other academics and practitioners in a new online course on “Water in Switzerland”, run by the University of Zurich. The course, addressed to the public, examines how this element affects various aspects of life in Switzerland. Read more

Contact

Dr. Christian Stamm Deputy Head of Department Tel. +41 58 765 5565 Send Mail

26. Oktober 2017 Determining when Anthropocene epoch starts

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? Scientists report in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology a method to measure levels of human-made contaminants in sediments that could help pinpoint the Anthropocene’s onset. Read more

Contact

Prof. Dr. Juliane Hollender Head of Department Tel. +41 58 765 5493 Send Mail

12. Oktober 2017 Pesticides: long-term persistence in soils

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 

Contact

Prof. Dr. Juliane Hollender Head of Department Tel. +41 58 765 5493 Send Mail

20. August 2017 Degradation of pharmaceuticals through sunlight in the water...

The degradation of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in surface waters is accelerated by sunlight. The presence of organic matter affects photochemical degradation significantly. How the various processes are interconnected was presented in our current publication. read more

Contact

Dr. Elisabeth Janssen Senior Scientist / group leader (she/her) Tel. +41 58 765 5428 Send Mail

01. Juni 2017 The scientists investigated water chemistry and biology in reaches upstream and downstream of WWTPs

Micropollutants enter rivers and streams in effluents discharged from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). As well as having adverse impacts on individual species, these substances appear to alter aquatic ecosystem functions, such as litter decomposition. This was shown by a research project launched by Eawag in view of the planned upgrade of selected Swiss WWTPs to reduce micropollutant loads. The effects of the first upgrades are already evident. Read more 

Contact

Dr. Christian Stamm Deputy Head of Department Tel. +41 58 765 5565 Send Mail

01. Februar 2017 Kathrin Fenner appointed as Professor ad personam at University of Zurich

Kathrin Fenner was appointed as extraordinary professor ad personam in the field of environmental chemistry. Kathrin Fenner is group leader in the department of Environmental Chemistry at Eawag. She graduated in Chemistry at the University of Zurich and obtained her PhD at the Department of Chemistry of ETH Zurich.

Additionally, she achieved a postgraduate degree in Industrial Management and Manufacturing and in 2010 she received the venia legendi in Environmental Chemistry at ETH Zurich. The topic of her habilitation thesis was “Exposure assessment for organic contaminants - Improving scope and accuracy”. Kathrin Fenner was visiting researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA, and visiting researcher with an SNF Fellowship for Advanced Researchers at the University of Minnesota, USA.

Related Links:
Department of Chemistry, University of Zurich

Contact

Prof. Dr. Kathrin Fenner Senior scientist / group leader Tel. +41 58 765 5085 Send Mail