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Poor outlook for water quality in Germany
Date:9/6/2011

This press release is available in German.

The good chemical and ecological status of water bodies as defined by the EU Water Framework Directive is unlikely to be attained in Germany by 2015. This is the conclusion of a study in which data from the four largest rivers in northern Germany - the Elbe, Weser, Aller and Ems - were analysed over ten years. The study was carried out by the University of Koblenz-Landau, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ and Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, and published in the international scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology.

"This study is the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world," stated Ralf B. Schfer, an assistant professor at the Institute for Environmental Sciences at the University of Koblenz-Landau. River monitoring data spanning from 1994 until 2004 were analysed. The study was only recently made possible by a new technique enabling the prediction of the toxicity of previously untested substances. Explaining the cut-off date, Prof Schfer added that data after 2004 weren't available to the extent required owing to the closure of Lower Saxony's Department of Environment. The occurence and possible toxic effects of 331 organic pollutants were examined in order to evaluate the quality of the rivers. A total of 257 of these compounds were detected in the rivers - sometimes in concentrations likely to have acute toxic effects on river organisms. Yet despite being potentially harmful to aquatic organisms, many of these compounds are not among the priority substances defined by the European Union and used to assess the chemical status of surface water under the Water Framework Directive. In fact just two of the 33 priority substances were found to exceed the recommended limits. Banned pesticides were also frequently detected in the river water raising the question
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Contact: Andreas Staak
presse@ufz.de
49-341-235-1232
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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