News - Current Eawag contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

December 8, 2023

December 8, 2023Legionella always interact with other organisms. Eawag researchers have characterised microbial communities and analysed their relationship to Legionella.

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December 1, 2023

December 1, 2023A team of seven current and former Eawag researchers will receive the Swiss Chemical Society’s Sandmeyer Prize in 2024 for the development of advanced wastewater treatment for the degradation of micropollutants using ozone. And the most amazing thing is: Just about 15 years have passed between basic research and large-scale technical implementation. This incredible timetable was only possible thanks to the wealth of knowledge already available at Eawag and the fact that interdisciplinary collaboration is a matter of course at the Swiss aquatic research institute.

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November 30, 2023

November 30, 2023This research project explores vermifiltration as an alternative method for wastewater treatment. The aim is to fill knowledge gaps.

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November 21, 2023

November 21, 2023On ETH Day, Charlotte Bopp was honoured with the Otto Jaag Water Protection Prize for her dissertation. In January, she will also receive the ETH Medal for her work.

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November 9, 2023

November 9, 2023Over the next 20 years, Austria and Switzerland will be investing more than CHF 1.4 billion in flood protection and ecological enhancement measures on the Alpine Rhine. As well as protecting the Rhine valley against flooding, the aim is to promote careful management of groundwater resources. With a new method, scientists from Eawag and the University of Neuchâtel are providing support for International Rhine Regulation planners.

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October 19, 2023

October 19, 2023The mandate for the “Water Quality” and “Process Engineering Micropollutants” platforms supported by Eawag, FOEN and VSA has been extended by an additional four years.

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September 19, 2023

September 19, 2023During prolonged droughts, the drinking water supply for the affected population is critical. Water filters are of enormous importance in such emergencies to prevent diseases. However, often it is not the distribution of filters that is lacking, but the fact that they are not used consistently in everyday life. Researchers at the Aquatic Research Institute Eawag have analysed the reasons for this in Northern Kenya.

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September 14, 2023

September 14, 2023At today's Eawag Info Day, the Aquatic Research Institute outlined the steps that need to be taken to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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September 7, 2023

September 7, 2023Timely analyses of the bacterial community in wastewater treatment plants enables changes to be detected and remedied before cleaning performance suffers.

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August 17, 2023

August 17, 2023The combined sewer system is a great achievement. But the discharge of diluted wastewater into central sewage treatment plants is approaching its limits.

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July 14, 2023

July 14, 2023Barbara Jeanne “BJ” Ward received the ETH Medal for her doctoral thesis on predicting the dewatering capacity of faecal sludge in mid-July. The medal honours excellent master and doctoral theses at ETH Zurich each year.

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June 27, 2023

June 27, 2023While the use of pesticides in industrial countries is being questioned more and more critically, less is known about their consequences on human health and the environment in tropical countries. The interdisciplinary project “Pestrop” is now changing this and also shows where the necessary measures need to be taken.

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May 30, 2023

May 30, 2023Trainees from Eawag’s analytical and training laboratory assist in the analysis of a wide variety of water samples. A prominent example is the National River Monitoring and Survey Programme (NADUF). In a video, we take a look behind the scenes of the laboratory and show its role for the NADUF programme.

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May 25, 2023

May 25, 2023At the recent joint 21st AfWASA International Congress and Exhibition and 7th Conference on Faecal Sludge Management (FSM7), Eawag signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement with the African Water and Sanitation Association. The two conferences took place under one roof in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

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May 23, 2023

May 23, 2023On Saturday, 20 May, the 18th Biennale of Architecture in Venice opened its doors. In the German pavilion, which focuses on building in existing contexts and the recycling economy, also the Nutrient Harvester developed at Eawag is demonstrated. It processes the urine from two on-site dry separation toilets into fertiliser.

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May 16, 2023

May 16, 2023Container-based sanitation has the potential to generate carbon credits through avoided greenhouse gas emissions. Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, worked on developing a draft methodology to quantify these emission savings.

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May 9, 2023

May 9, 2023Environmental engineer Wenzel Gruber and microbiologist Robert Niederdorfer – both Eawag postdocs – founded the spin-off Upwater together with two other partners at the beginning of November 2022. It offers measurements for wastewater treatment plants to support them in reducing process instabilities, greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy consumption.

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May 5, 2023

May 5, 2023Chlorination protects safe water from recontamination after transport and storage. Eawag engineers developed and tested two types of chlorinators.

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May 3, 2023

May 3, 2023An Eawag study shows that a large variety of living organisms leave their DNA traces in groundwater – which also depends on the land use in the catchment area. In future, these biological parameters could be used to assess groundwater quality.

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April 20, 2023

April 20, 2023In urban India, rising water scarcity and increasing pressure on water supply utilities have prompted the use of treated wastewater as an alternative source. A study of Eawag together with Indian partners explains how the use of sensors and automated chlorination can improve microbial water quality in on-site water reuse systems for increased user safety.

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April 13, 2023

April 13, 2023Mining repeatedly causes water pollution. In the Global South, polluters often get away with it because the waters are seldom monitored. Satellite data can provide evidence of the origin, spread and extent of environmental disasters.

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April 11, 2023

April 11, 2023Nitrous oxide is one of the main greenhouse gases and also contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer. One of the places where it is released is in wastewater treatment plants. A study has now investigated how much of this is due to the treatment of sludge liquid, which is to be expanded over the next few years.

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March 17, 2023

March 17, 2023The UN Water Conference is an urgent appeal to the global community to act on Sustainable Development Goal 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation. Eawag is willing to make its contribution and presents new approaches such as the Urban Water Flow Diagram, which improves water management in cities.

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February 21, 2023

February 21, 2023Wastewater treatment plants can do more than just wastewater treatment. In the future, they should also recover resources. One approach that researchers at Eawag are pursuing is the conversion of the organic carbon contained in wastewater into bioplastics with the help of bacteria.

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February 16, 2023

February 16, 2023A new “Theory of Change” shows which psychological factors influence the use of decentralised water treatment technologies and which measures can support their introduction.

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January 27, 2023

January 27, 2023Switzerland's groundwater is home to a multitude of hitherto unknown organisms. An Eawag research project is shining a light into the darkness and revealing this habitat’s exceptional biodiversity.

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January 23, 2023

January 23, 2023Too much nitrogen enters many water bodies. The anammox process co-developed by Eawag can contribute to reducing outputs from wastewater treatment plants.

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January 10, 2023

January 10, 2023Eawag researcher and EPFL professor, Urs von Gunten has been awarded a prize for outstanding services by the journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T).

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December 15, 2022

December 15, 2022Work 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 6, 2022

December 6, 2022Currently, the first Swiss wastewater treatment plants are being upgraded with an additional treatment stage for the removal of micropollutants using granulated activated carbon (GAC), including the WWTP at Muri. Eawag provided technical support for the design of the installation and is also investigating unresolved issues.

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November 24, 2022

November 24, 2022Together 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 22, 2022

November 22, 2022New technologies in the water sector can contribute to the flexible and sustainable development of urban water management and the sustainable utilisation of water as a resource. In a recent article in the journal Aqua & Gas, a team of researchers from the aquatic research institute Eawag shows what opportunities and risks are associated with this.

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November 21, 2022

November 21, 2022Eawag 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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November 17, 2022

November 17, 2022No tiger duck and no football club - the formula "yellow-black-grey" refers to the separation of wastewater streams at their source, i.e. at the toilet, washbasin or shower. This opens up new possibilities and saves resources. On the occasion of World Toilet Day on 19 November, a series of Eawag fact sheets shows how this can be done.

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October 18, 2022

October 18, 2022In many regions of the world, groundwater is contaminated with arsenic of natural origin. The harmful substance can be filtered out of water with the help of iron. Eawag researchers have for the first time made visible exactly what happens in this process in a new type of experimental set-up.

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September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022Janet Hering, Director of the aquatic research institute Eawag, signed a cooperation agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday 26 September 2022. The cooperation between Eawag and the IAEA should help to further advance groundwater research and support the sustainable utilisation of groundwater resources.

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September 16, 2022

September 16, 2022The “Water Wall” developed by Eawag researchers recycles handwashing and toilet flushing water in a closed cycle and can therefore be used in regions with scarce water resources or those without water and wastewater networks. Now the project has been awarded the Mülheim Water Award.

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August 11, 2022

August 11, 2022As an additive in toothpaste, it protects our teeth from decay. But when fluoride occurs in nature in larger quantities and accumulates in groundwater, it can become a hazard for our health. For the first time, Eawag scientists have produced a detailed map of global fluoride contamination in groundwater and shown which regions of the world are particularly affected.

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August 9, 2022

August 9, 2022Throughout Switzerland, infections with bacteria of the genus Legionella are increasing significantly. Researchers at Eawag have now outlined how the growth of these microbial inhabitants of drinking water systems could be curbed with the help of other organisms.

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August 4, 2022

August 4, 202225 years ago, urine-diverting toilets were no more than an idea, challenging the central paradigm of wastewater treatment plants. Since then, however, modular water technologies have become increasingly important. Using a new method, scientists at Eawag have mapped the dynamics of this transition.

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July 28, 2022

July 28, 2022Over the last six years, more than 160,000 people around the world have participated in online courses offered by Eawag, thus acquiring valuable knowledge about, for example, sanitation systems or municipal solid waste management.

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July 19, 2022

July 19, 2022Even 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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July 18, 2022

July 18, 2022As part of a new national research programme that aims to replace animal experiments in research, the National Science Foundation is supporting a project at Eawag. This opens up new possibilities for determining the toxicity of chemical substances based solely on tests with cultured cells and computer models. Animal experiments could thus be replaced.

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June 9, 2022

June 9, 2022Eawag’s research is usually reported on in scientific papers and media articles. Rather unusual, however, is the form of a comic. Illustrator Celine Künzle took a close-up look at Eawag’s research with faeces and recorded her impressions in the recently-published comic report.

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May 31, 2022

May 31, 2022The biologically active, slow-flow sand filters of lake water treatment would remove nanoplastics from the raw water very efficiently. This was shown both in the laboratory and in larger, realistic tests and modelling.

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May 9, 2022

May 9, 2022Oliver Schilling is newly appointed Professor of Hydrogeology at the University of Basel, where he is setting up a research group that is also associated with the Eawag Water Resources and Drinking Water Department in Dübendorf. This dual affiliation is perfect, says Schilling.

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May 5, 2022

May 5, 2022Eawag researchers Sabine Hoffmann, Kai Udert and Lisa Deutsch are committed to a sanitation and nutrient transformation. They use an example to explain why a transformation is needed and why collaboration with politicians in particular is a challenge.

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May 4, 2022

May 4, 2022What has been a purification process in wastewater treatment plants for decades can also be used decentrally or semi-centrally as a recycling process for nutrients. Early separation of "solid and liquid" plays a key role here. It allows for flexible solutions in terms of process technology, especially in the treatment of urine. New studies also show that the processes can be used not only for human urine, but also for that of cows or pigs.

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April 14, 2022

April 14, 2022Chlorination of drinking water reduces infections – and it changes the composition of the intestinal flora of young children, as a study published today in “Nature Microbiology” shows. The results indicate that the diversity of the intestinal flora isn’t reduced and bacteria associated with gut health are increased.

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March 22, 2022

March 22, 2022For World Water Day 2022, the United Nations is focusing on our groundwater – an invisible treasure that it wants to bring into the social and political spotlight. For Eawag, groundwater as a resource has long been one of its most important research priorities. An overview.

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March 18, 2022

March 18, 2022What is the state of groundwater in Switzerland? On World Water Day, we discussed this with hydrogeologist Christian Moeck, who, as an employee of the Eawag Hydrogeology Research Group, deals with the pressing challenges surrounding groundwater and researches how groundwater can be protected as a resource.

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March 7, 2022

March 7, 2022Researchers decipher how the microbial inhabitants of sewage treatment plants help eliminate intestinal parasites / Article published in ‘Microbiome’.

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February 10, 2022

February 10, 2022Eawag researchers have won a competition organised by Britain’s National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3R). The prize money is awarded for use in research to develop technologies to replace animal testing.

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February 9, 2022

February 9, 2022Wastewater treatment plants are ‘hotspots’ for antibiotic resistance genes and bacteria but sewer overflows exacerbate the problem by disseminating them into rivers. Researchers at Eawag suggest ways to minimise these effects.

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February 8, 2022

February 8, 2022Mining can have serious consequences for nature and the health of the population in countries of the Global South, where environmental laws are often only inconsistently implemented. In Hwange, in western Zimbabwe, people have been fighting water pollution from coal mining for years. But they were powerless against the operators – until doctoral student Désirée Ruppen launched a citizen science project in 2018.

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January 28, 2022

January 28, 2022A 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 20, 2022

January 20, 2022Switzerland has around 800 municipal wastewater treatment plants. A recent study by Eawag researchers reveals the burden these plants place on the climate, and explores how emissions of climate-damaging nitrous oxide can be reduced.

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November 17, 2021

November 17, 2021The separation toilet save! has won the Design Award Switzerland 2021. This is also a milestone for Tove Larsen. She is a member of the Eawag Directorate and has been researching for almost 30 years how the nutrients in wastewater can be recovered in a useful way. In this interview on the occasion of World Toilet Day 2021, she explains how crucial our handling of wastewater is for climate change and for achieving the SDGs sustainability goals.

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November 17, 2021

November 17, 2021Together with a team of researchers and designers, Kai Udert has designed a toilet system that makes it possible to recycle nutrients from wastewater on-site. As a result, valuable nutrients can be recovered and used as fertilisers so that they no longer end up in lakes and oceans where they do a lot of damage. Now he wants to make the system ready for market together with industry partners.

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September 23, 2021

September 23, 2021The "gene scissors" CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to precisely modify genes in order to study their function in an organism. A researcher at Eawag has now succeeded for the first time in establishing the gene scissors for a fish cell line of rainbow trout. This means that, as of now, genetically modified cell lines can be produced. These allow alternatives to ecotoxicological tests on living animals.

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September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021Making decisions about what sanitation infrastructure to implement in emergency and humanitarian crises is challenging. Research on how to support this decision-making has led to the online platform: emersan-compendium.org.

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July 8, 2021

July 8, 2021Eawag’s practice-oriented courses (known as PEAK) provide training for professionals. Isabelle Schläppi of the PEAK Office looks back over a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021The OECD gives the green light to the fish cell line assay developed at Eawag. This paves the way for companies and authorities around the world to determine the environmental toxicology of chemicals without having to resort to animal testing.

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June 18, 2021

June 18, 2021Bacteria from an Indian landfill could help eliminate contaminated chemicals. The focus is on pesticides such as lindane or brominated flame retardants, which accumulate in nature and in food chains. Researchers at Eawag and Empa used these bacteria to generate enzymes that can break down these dangerous chemicals.

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June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021With 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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June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021Microbes self-organise to grow into fascinating and complex patterns. The diversity of these patterns depends on a previously unknown factor, as researchers at Eawag have discovered. This might re-define how we view the concept of microbial biodiversity.

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June 1, 2021

June 1, 2021The Zambezi River Basin in southern Africa is a high-quality waterscape. But current rapid development threatens the waters of the Zambezi, particularly its tributaries. The challenge will be to ensure that mitigation measures keep up with population and economic growth to avoid degradation of water quality degradation.

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May 21, 2021

May 21, 2021An Eawag researcher has helped to develop a new approach to tracking how river water enters the groundwater. In the test area within the Emmental, the flow time within the aquifer has been shown to be much shorter than previously assumed. This has potential consequences during dry spells.

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March 30, 2021

March 30, 2021Ecotoxicological tests need to be extremely accurate – which often poses challenges in research and practice. Eawag has now developed a computer model that enables even more accurate testing at high throughput; the model is simple, widely applicable and saves resources.

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March 11, 2021

March 11, 2021Rare earth metals such as cerium and gadolinium are increasingly entering wastewater from industry, but also from hospitals. This is shown by Eawag’s investigations at 63 wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland.

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March 3, 2021

March 3, 2021New 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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February 23, 2021

February 23, 2021A new fact sheet highlights the opportunities and challenges associated with greywater.

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January 29, 2021

January 29, 2021For three months, an extended family in South Africa tested the standalone Autarky toilet cubicle. Everyone was very happy with the quiet hideout.

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January 21, 2021

January 21, 2021Legionella in drinking water systems can pose a health risk. But the complexity of the stagnation issue means that a much more nuanced approach is required to manage this risk than has previously been supposed.

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January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021Each year, around 130 kilograms of mercury flow into Swiss wastewater treatment plants, which filter out the lion’s share from the waste water. This is shown by a survey of almost thirty wastewater treatment plants conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

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