Department Environmental Chemistry

Industrial Point Sources Exploring industrial discharges of polar organic contaminants to Swiss surface waters

Emissions of micropollutants (MPs) from industrial point sources contaminate the aquatic environment worldwide. Several studies have addressed the topic in the past, but the knowledge on this topic remains fragmented. Particularly unclear is the contribution of industry compared to other MP sources like agriculture and households.  This project intends to estimate the contribution of industrial point sources to the total load of polar organic MPs in Swiss surface waters with a focus on the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

Industrial point sources have complex emission patterns due to temporal and spatial variation in both intensity and chemical composition. To address this surface waters and effluents of Swiss wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) receiving substantial fractions of industrial wastewater are sampled with high temporal resolution and measured using state-of-the-art liquid chromatography high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS). The acquired concentration profiles are then analyzed using target (ca. 150 analytes), suspect and non-target screening. The characterization of the spatial prevalence of industrial discharges, their substance composition and temporal dynamics will contribute to a better exposure assessment of Swiss surface water ecosystems towards MPs from industrial sources.