Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems

24.07.2018

Evolutionary biologists from the University of Tübingen investigate how water treatments affect fish

Even tiny amounts of toxins in rivers and lakes can endanger aquatic organisms. The public has become more aware of this environmental problem in recent years. Trace amounts of toxins found in our waterways are included in many of the things we use every day – dishwasher tablets, washing powder and shower gel – as well as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and pesticides.


Scientists taking samples from the fish in the cage

Photo: Rita Triebskorn


The researchers kept rainbow trout in a special cage in the waters they were analyzing.

Photo: Rita Triebskorn

These substances are in household wastewater and are transported to wastewater treatment plants, where conventional techniques cannot completely remove or degrade them. The treated wastewater flows into our streams, taking the toxins with it.

A group of researchers headed by the University of Tübingen’s Professor Rita Triebskorn has been investigating the effects of various wastewater treatments on the health of fish. The scientists, from the Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE), found that the type of wastewater treatment needs to be decided on a case by case basis, depending on the composition of toxins in the wastewater. Their study has been published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe.

In conventional wastewater treatment plants the wastewater from industry and private households runs through mechanical, biological, and chemical purification stages. Additional stages using activated carbon or ozonisation are increasingly being included as a fourth purifcation stage.

“As part of an investigation on Lake Constance we were able to show that trace toxins can be effectively removed with an additional stage of powdered activated carbon, and that the health of aquatic organisms in the area clearly improves,” says Rita Triebskorn. “But until now there have been relatively few studies on the long-term success of improved wastewater treatment on water ecosystems.”

Standardized experimental conditions

In their comparative experiments the researchers looked at three conventional wastewater treatment plants – one of which, the Langwiese plant in the Ravensburg district, had an activated carbon stage installed during the study. The biologists placed cages into the water above and below the place where treated water from the plant flowed into the river.

“Compared with the examination of wild fish, this has the advantage that we can standardize the fish characteristics such as age, diet and stage of development. This means we can better recognize any effects on the health of the animals,” says team member and the study’s corresponding author, Sabrina Wilhelm. Established methods were used to find out whether the rainbow trout cell nuclei showed signs of increased genotoxicity. And the livers of the fish were examined to determine whether they were having to work harder to remove or break down toxins.

Case-by-case decisions

“While we didn’t find negative effects of trace toxins on fish health in one of the conventional water treatment plants, the rainbow trout below the second conventional plant had much higher critical liver values,” Sabrina Wilhelm says. “We also saw these negative effects at the Langwiese plant before the installation of the fourth stage.” She adds that the activated carbon stage clearly reduced the high liver values and the genotoxicity in the fish.

“Investing in modern water purification techniques are a boon to aquatic ecosystems particularly when conventional technologies don’t do enough to reduce the levels of toxins,” Rita Triebskorn says. “However, depending on the composition of the wastewater, negative effects on aquatic organisms can also be reduced by optimizing conventional wastewater purification.” The bottom line is that it is worth investing in good wastewater purification for sustainable protection of our environment.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Professor Dr. Rita Triebskorn
University of Tübingen
Institute of Evolution and Ecology
Phone +49 7071 29-78892
rita.triebskorn[at]uni-tuebingen.de

Originalpublikation:

Sabrina Wilhelm, Stefanie Jacob, Michael Ziegler, Heinz-R. Köhler, Rita Triebskorn: Which kind of wastewater treatment do we need to avoid genotoxicity and dioxin-like toxicity in effluent-exposed fish?. Environmental Sciences Europe, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-018-0154-0.

Dr. Karl Guido Rijkhoek | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>