Research team

Ecosphere

Expertise

For more than 30 years, I have mainly been carrying out field ecotoxicological research on the bioavailability and effects of micropollutants on both aquatic and terrestrial organisms. We mainly look at the effects of environmental factors such as pH, temperature, salinity etc. on the uptake and accumulation of metals and organic micropollutants. Special attention has been paid to perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) for a number of years. In the laboratory we have the capacity to measure metals and PFAS to very low concentrations, both in environmental samples (water, soil, sediment) and in biota (all kinds of terrestrial and aquatic organisms). Effects are studied mainly at the organic level and at the community level. For the study of other micropollutants (e.g. PCBs, flame retardants, pesticides,...) we collaborate with other laboratories inside and outside the UAntwerpen. Recently we started with the study of the fate and effects of microplastics in the aquatic environment. Finally, the effects of "natural" components such as nutrients are also examined at the level of aquatic communities.

The analyser - Skalar. 01/06/2022 - 31/05/2024

Abstract

Nutrients are vital, not only for individual organisms but also for entire ecosystems. The SKALAR SAN++ Advanced System allows us to analyze a whole range of nutrients in continuous flow. It is essential for the research of the new research group ECOSPHERE on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, where nutrient analysis in water, plants and soil are essential, and for the research group DuEL, where nutrient analysis in wastewater streams and microbial growth media are indispensable. The equipment also delivers analysis services to other research groups and external parties.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project

Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals (PARC). 01/05/2022 - 30/04/2029

Abstract

Chemicals risk assessors and managers are faced with data and knowledge gaps and lack of tools and methods, to speed up and prioritise risk assessments and capture risks from existing and emerging substances across regulatory domains. The lack of available or accessible information increases the risk of 'regrettable' substitutions and slows down the design of safer chemicals. A diverse landscape of regulatory frameworks and actors carrying out risk assessment of chemicals for their specific purpose has resulted in a fragmented approach. Risks to human and environmental health are still in certain cases considered separately, while in most cases they are inherently interrelated. To enable risk assessors and risk managers to respond to current and future challenges, the Partnership should stimulate research and innovation in chemicals risk assessment by developing a collaborative network with public research entities. A common research and innovation programme should be established by national and EU risk assessors and risk managers in consultation with relevant stakeholders (academia, industry, associations and others). Activities of the Partnership should be complementary and subsidiary to obligations under existing regulatory frameworks, and should coordinate with these as relevant. The Partnership should become a reference centre for research questions related to chemicals risk assessment, including those emerging from other Horizon Europe partnerships or missions. The Partnership is expected to establish relevant collaborations with other Horizon Europe partnerships and missions as set out in the working document on 'Coherence and Synergies of candidate European partnerships under Horizon Europe' as well as to explore collaborations with other relevant activities at EU and international level. The Partnership should align with EU-wide initiatives on open access and FAIR data.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project

Influence of soil properties on the sorption of per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances to soil and the bioavailability and bioaccumulation to terrestrial biota. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2023

Abstract

Per- and polyfluoralkylated substances or PFAS, which have been used in large quantities since the 1940s because of their applications such as food packaging, are receiving increasing attention since the early 2000s. The production and use of PFAS have led to the global detection in the environment. Despite regulatory measures for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), the most frequently detected PFAS, there are concerns on many other PFAS that are similar in structure and properties and that are not regulated. Soils form the basis of the terrestrial food chain and PFAS uptake from contaminated soils is known to cause human exposure to PFAS. However, there are many uncertainties on the behaviour of PFAS in soils and the following bioavailability to and bioaccumulation in biota. The general objective of my project is to investigate the role of soil properties and temperature on the uptake and distribution of PFAS in the terrestrial food chain. Descriptive studies, close to a fluorochemical plant, will provide us with an overview of the concentrations of legacy, novel and unknown PFAS in the terrestrial food chain and how these concentrations are influenced by soil properties. In addition, experimental studies will be performed to disentangle causal links from confounding effects, but also to study the uptake and effects in terrestrial invertebrates and plants. This study will help policy makers to set new, or alter existing, PFAS criteria for soil.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project

From exposome to effect assessment of contaminants in human and animal models (EXPOSOME). 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

We will develop a pioneering holistic framework based on innovative approaches to explore the human exposome in terms of exposure leading to adverse effects with a focus on endocrine-modulated neurological and metabolic disorders by: i. Identifying and characterizing the exposure sources of relevant chemicals in the context of the xposome framework; ii. developing and applying in silico, in vitro and in vivo human and animal models to investigate the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion processes after exposure to chemicals; iii. setting up relevant clinical/epidemiological exposure-wide association studies to better understand the associations between exposure and neurological and metabolic disorders in longitudinal and (nested) casecontrol cohorts and including birth cohorts to understand transgenerational mechanisms; iv. using targeted and untargeted omics techniques (e.g. metabolomics and transcriptomics) in human and animal biological systems to aid data-driven discovery of causal factors for adverse health effects; v. linking exposure to mixtures by integrating exposome research with the adverse outcome pathway concept, a novel toxicological framework structuring the cascade of biological events from an initial molecular-level perturbation of a biological system to an adverse health outcome.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project

Development of a biomonitoring tool to estimate risks of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) through consumption of self-cultivated food products. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are a diverse family of anthropogenic chemicals with unique physicochemical properties that have resulted in numerous industrial and commercial applications. Their broad application and bioaccumulation potential has led to their worldwide presence in the environment and detection in biota including humans. Over the last decade, consuming food products by humans from self-cultivation has become a remarkable trend in rural, urban and even industrial areas. Nevertheless, PFAAs can enter the food chain due to their widespread use and food intake has been identified as a major pathway for human exposure to PFAAs. Despite the ubiquitous presence and known bio accumulation potential of PFAAs, there is no overview of their spatial distribution pattern or degree of exposure via dietary intake. Nevertheless, it is crucial to solve these two major knowledge gaps to reveal the health risks associated with PFAA exposure. Therefore, the objectives of this proposal are (I) investigate the accumulation of PFAAs in important food items (chicken eggs and vegetables) from private gardens and the influence of soil characteristics, (II) develop a biomonitoring tool that estimates the risks associated with PFAA contamination in food, (III) deliver novel insights in the toxic properties and effects of PFAAs in chickens and (IV) investigate if PFAA concentrations in the food items exceed safety threshold values for human consumption.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project

Are internal concentrations of micro pollutants in aquatic organisms predictive of the ecological quality of water courses? 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

For the monitoring of pollutants in the aquatic environment and the prediction of their ecological effects on aquatic organisms, most of the time only water, sediment or suspended matter is measured. However, with this approach the results only reflect the situation at the moment of sampling while concentrations might fluctuate with time. Moreover, this approach does not take into account the bio-availability, which is influenced by factors such as acidity, water hardness and temperature and that may differ substantially among sites. Therefore it makes more sense to measure toxic compounds in organisms that are resistant to pollution and that easily accumulate them. In this way fluctuations in time and differences in accumulation are integrated in the measurement. The aim of this study is to look for species (invertebrates and fish) that can be collected from natural waters (rivers, lakes, canals) or introduced in cages and in which accumulation of micro pollutants is assessed. The accumulated levels of pollutants and internal distribution will be related to the invertebrate and fish community structure. In order to confirm field results, also laboratory and mesocosm (artificial ponds) experiments will be performed in which invertebrates are exposed to the pollutants and effects on physiology, reproduction and behavior will be assessed. In this way we will investigate if this approach is suitable to derive biota quality standards that are protective of ecological damage. -

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project

CALI-capture the light. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

The equipment applied for in this application is the Tecan SPARK®, a multimode microplate reader. The instrument reads microtiter plates up to 384 wells in various modes. Equipped with several monochromators, it measures optical density, several fluorescence modes and luminescence. It has an incubator-shaker ranging from 18° to 42°C. Unlike many other readers on the market, it is capable of measuring the quality and quantity of nucleic acids and proteins in volumes down to 2 microliters on 16 samples in parallel. It is a modular system which allows future extension with flash injectors, plate stacker, automatic lid removal etc… Prof. L. Bervoets (promotor), prof. G. De Boeck, and prof. H. Svardal (co-promotors) work in the SPHERE group on the effects of environmental stressors, both natural and anthropogenic, on the performance of aquatic and terrestrial organisms, in vivo and in vitro with an emphasis on mechanisms and ecological relevance. Prof. E. Prinsen (co-promotor) and the IMPRES group study plant stress and energy metabolism, acclimation mechanisms and the modelling of Leaf growth and tip growth and the role of plant hormones therein. All team members have an increasing need of in vitro assays to determine enzymatic activity and several other biomarkers such as hormones and cellular metabolites. The advanced possibilities of the SPARK® instrument offer several advantages, e.g. fluorescence modes, luminescence, scanning mode, etc., compared to the groups' current instruments (>10 years old). Notably, the cooling capacity of the incubator is unique on the market today. The facility for cooling is very important for the groups' research: SPHERE mainly focusses on the aquatic environment, and IMPRES on plants in a temperate climate, hence it is necessary to run assays at temperatures lower than typical room.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

    Project website

    Project type(s)

    • Research Project

    Expert advice on environmental risk assessment of contaminated sediments 23/12/2019 - 22/04/2020

    Abstract

    In the context of the further elaboration of the policy related to risk assessment of contaminated sediments in Flanders, OVAM has set up different actions. Initiatives from Flanders and abroad provide insight into how the risks of sediment contamination can be estimated and tackled. This results in a large amount of knowledge and information. However, it is a complex matter. That is why researchers from SPHERE, with relevant expertise, will assist OVAM. The information related to environmental risk assessment from the various projects will be used to develop its policy in Flanders.

    Researcher(s)

    Research team(s)

      Project type(s)

      • Research Project

      Remobilisation of pollutants from sediments 19/12/2019 - 19/12/2021

      Abstract

      On several locations in Flanders sediments are seriously contaminated. Within the framework of European regulation (Water Framework Directive) it is important to assess the impact of this pollution on the aquatic ecosystem. Within this project, the possible influence of sediment contamination on the water quality and ecological goals of the ecosystem will be investigated. The project consists of a literature study, field measurements and experiments and the elaboration of a policy framework for Flanders.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

        Project type(s)

        • Research Project

        Sampling and analysis of micropolluatnts in Biota from aquatic systems in Flanders 13/08/2019 - 12/08/2022

        Abstract

        Aquatic ecosystems and waterbodies are under persistent stress of chemical pollutants, mainly of anthropogenic origin. High concentrations can harm entire ecosystems and be potentially toxic to humans. The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) obliges member states to monitor chemical compounds in surface waters and to set quality standards that protect against detrimental effects of toxic compounds. Generally, most of the target chemical compounds are able to be measured in water or sediment samples. However, the low water solubility of highly hydrophobic compounds precludes direct measurement in water. Accordingly, the WFD has formulated biota quality standards (BQS), for 11 priority compounds and their derivatives, which refer to concentrations of compounds that have to be monitored in fish and bivalves (biota). In the present study, bioaccumulation of hexachlorobenzene (HCBz), hexachlorobutadiene (HCBd), mercury (Hg), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), hexabromo-cyclododecane (HBCD), perfluoro-octaansulphonate (PFOS) and its derivatives, dicofol, heptachlor and heptachlor epoxide, and dioxins and dioxin-like compounds were measured in muscle tissue of perch (Perca fluviatilis) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla) originating from different Flemish water bodies. Fluoranthene and benzo(a)pyrene were measured in zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis), using active biomonitoring. In every sampling point at least one of both selected fish species could be collected. For fluoranthene an exceedance of the standard was observed in some sampling locations in zebra mussel, for benzo(a)pyrene there were some exceedances for both zebra and quagga mussel. Dioxin concentrations exceeded the standard in 4 sampling locations in eel muscle tissue. For PFOS, an exceedance of the standard was detected at almost every location for both fish species. The biota quality standard for Hg and PBDE was exceeded in every sampling location and for both fish species. One sample had PBDE concentrations below the quantification limit, which is more than 10 times higher than the BQS. Concentrations of HCBd and dicofol were below the quantification limit. Furthermore no exceedances of the standard were found for HCBz and HBCD. For heptachlor all measurements where below the quantification limits (40 times higher than the standard), cis-heptachlor epoxide exceeded the quantification limit in all except one location in eel muscle tissue and in 3 locations in perch muscle tissue. An overall trend of higher concentrations per wet weight in eel than in perch was detected. Nonetheless, after correction for lipid content, this trend was no longer present or even reversed with higher concentrations in perch muscle tissue, indicating the lipophilic properties of these compounds. This was true for all compounds – except for PFOS: in fact, this compound showed the exact opposite trend. Concentrations of PAHs were always higher in zebra mussel than in quagga mussel. This is possibly caused by the higher trophic position of the first. For both fish species, however, we could not find clear differences in trophic level. Finally, calculated concentrations using the passive samplers, compared to existing literature, show promising applicability and incites further development of this tool. Based on the results of the present study and – where possible – a comparison to data present in literature, it is evident that the existing biota quality standards for Hg, PBDE and PFOS are exceeded in all fish species from Flemish and European water bodies.

        Researcher(s)

        Research team(s)

        Project type(s)

        • Research Project

        Active passive water pollution sampling device (WATERSIDE). 01/05/2019 - 31/08/2020

        Abstract

        Previously an active passive sampler for accumulation of pollutants from water was developed into a laboratory prototype. Its n°1 feature is controlled flow through the device, such that sampling is independent of hydrodynamic flow in the water body. This project will establish a field-deployable prototype. Its valorization value lies in standardization and the replacement of biota sampling.

        Researcher(s)

        Research team(s)

          Project type(s)

          • Research Project

          Expert advice on risk assessment of contaminated sediments 15/03/2019 - 15/04/2019

          Abstract

          Flanders public waste agency (OVAM) is currently working on new legislation concerning a sediment risk assessment framework for Flanders. Within this project researchers of SPHERE (UAntwerp) will contribute to different aspects of this framework.

          Researcher(s)

          Research team(s)

            Project type(s)

            • Research Project

            Citizen science for monitoring macroplastics in Kenya using mobile technology (C-Smart). 01/01/2019 - 31/08/2022

            Abstract

            Plastic pollution is arguably one of the most important and pervasive environmental problems today. Kenya wildlife, biodiversity and fish stocks are impacted by this plastic pollution with ecological and human conse-quences. From September 2017 Kenya implemented the world's toughest plastic bag ban whereas producing, selling and using plastic bags is prohibited. This is a strong commitment and a big step in the right direction. However, we believe that there are opportunities to increase the impact of the ban in order to further reduce plastic pollution in Kenya, and also in surrounding countries. By monitoring macroplastic pollution in Kenya with Citizen Science using a new developed phone application we believe we can (1) increase awareness, (2) advice policy makers and (3) inform and persuade surrounding countries to implement source mitigation efforts. This project will exert an influence on both, political decisions and individual behaviour related to the reduction of plastic pollution.

            Researcher(s)

            Research team(s)

            Project type(s)

            • Research Project

            Development of a biomonitoring tool to estimate health risks of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) through consumption of seld-cultivated and commercial food products. 01/01/2019 - 31/10/2019

            Abstract

            Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are a diverse family of anthropogenic chemicals with unique physicochemical properties that have resulted in numerous industrial and commercial applications. Their broad application and bioaccumulation potential has led to their worldwide presence in the environment and detection in biota including humans. Over the last decade, humans consuming food products from self-cultivation and local companies has become a remarkable trend in rural, urban and even industrial areas. Nevertheless, PFAAs can enter the food chain due to their widespread use and food intake has been identified as a major pathway for human exposure to PFAAs. Despite the ubiquitous presence and known toxic effects of PFAAs, there is no overview of their spatial distribution pattern or degree of exposure via dietary intake. Nevertheless, it is crucial to solve these two major knowledge gaps to reveal the health risks associated with PFAA exposure. Therefore, I will (i) develop a biomonitoring tool that estimates the risks associated with PFAA contamination in food, (ii) clarify the spatial distribution pattern of PFAAs and (iii) deliver novel insights in the toxic properties and effects of PFAAs. My research outcome will significantly improve the monitoring capabilities of regulatory agencies while the outcome of the studied PFAA effects will be of great relevance for the poultry industry, especially companies located within proximity of PFAA producing and processing industry.

            Researcher(s)

            Research team(s)

              Project type(s)

              • Research Project

              Comprehensive Liquid Chromatography - Ion Mobility - Quadrupole-Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry for innovative metabolomics. 01/05/2018 - 30/04/2021

              Abstract

              The requested infrastructure (comprehensive liquid chromatograph-ion mobility-quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometer LCxLC-IM-QTOFMS) combines several state-of-the-art technologies into one platform which aims at bringing metabolomics research to the next level. As such, the infrastructure will deliver a combined five-dimension separation and detection technology, the first of its kind in Belgium. This instrument will be dedicated to metabolomics research, the science of endogenous metabolites in cells, tissues or organisms. The infrastructure will be able to optimally separate, detect and identify the very broad and complex chemical space of metabolites ranging from very polar (e.g. amino acids) to non-polar (e.g. lipids and hormones) at low nanomolar concentration range. Within UA, there is a growing need to combine the currently scattered efforts in metabolomics, an Emerging Frontline Research Domain in the UA research scene. Research ranges from drug discovery (mode of action and pharmacokinetic profiling), biomarker and toxicity studies to advanced data-analysis and systems biology approaches, but a dedicated metabolomics infrastructure to strengthen these studies is currently missing. As such, the investment in a core facility together with the gathering of nine research groups from five departments and two faculties would centralize the metabolomics research. This will position UA as a key player in the academic metabolomics research in the BeNeLux and worldwide.

              Researcher(s)

              Research team(s)

              Project type(s)

              • Research Project

              Support in the development of risk assessment procedures for river sediments 06/02/2018 - 31/12/2018

              Abstract

              As part of the further development of its sediment policy, OVAM has set up various actions. Work is continuing on a standard procedure and a code of good practice for sediment research, a system for risk assessment for water beds and shores, a study 'Validation hotspots' has started, and a number of descriptive sediment studies for surface waters are being carried out. Sphere offers the expertise that can support OVAM and the appointed soil remediation experts and more specifically for the development of a system for risk assessments

              Researcher(s)

              Research team(s)

                Project type(s)

                • Research Project

                Assessing the adverse effects of Perfluoralkyl compounds on birds: an integrated field and laboratory approach using passerine birds as model system 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021

                Abstract

                Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are substances which have been produced for more than five decades. Their unique properties of repelling both water and oil, make them suitable for many industrial and consumer applications such as water and dirt repellents for cloths and carpets, active components in firefighting foams or precursors in Teflon® production. Its extended use, together with their high persistence, resulted in a global contamination of the environment, wildlife and even humans. This ubiquity contrasts sharply with the limited information about their effects on organisms. With this study I will contribute to finding answers to fill some of the most important knowledge gaps in the toxicity mechanisms of these compounds. For this purpose, I will use two model bird species: great tits (Parus major) and canaries (Serinus canaria). Firstly, I will study the PFAAs exposure levels and the fitness consequences in free-living great tits along a PFAAs gradient from a fluorichemical plant in Antwerp, Belgium. Secondly, I will reproduce the exposure levels in captive canaries in order to replicate the results, found in the field, in a more controlled environment. The studied biomarkers will cover several levels of biological organization, from molecular to individual responses. As a result of my study, the PFAAs toxicity mechanisms will be better understood and their impact at an individual and population level can be more accurately forecasted.

                Researcher(s)

                Research team(s)

                Project type(s)

                • Research Project

                Ecotoxicological effects of sulphates to aquatic organisms 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2019

                Abstract

                In order to derive scientifically based environmental quality standard (EQS) for sulphates in fresh water ecosystems sufficient data should be available. The 'European Union Technical Guidance Document for Deriving Environmental Quality Standards (EU-TGD, 2011)' provides different methods to derive EQS. Preferentially chronic ecotoxicological data should be used (NOEC, No Observed Effect Concentrations) in combination with species sensitivity distributions (SSD). Based on these data a HC5 (Hazard Concentration 5%) can be derived, which is a concentration that is considered to be protective for 95% of all the species included in the SSD. According to t e guidelines minimal 15 species belonging to at least 8 different taxonomic groups should be included. Based on a first screening of all available data it has been noted that not all taxonomic groups are represented so far (especially insects are lacking). In this study the existing literature on sulphate toxicity on fresh water organisms will screened in detail and in addition chronic toxicity tests on insect larvae will be performed in order to gain more information that can be used for the derivation of a safe EQS.

                Researcher(s)

                Research team(s)

                  Project type(s)

                  • Research Project

                  Sullied Sediment: Sediment characterisation and clean up pilots in inland waterways in the North Sea Region. 01/08/2017 - 30/06/2020

                  Abstract

                  This project delivers better assessment, better treatment and better prevention of contamination in pilot NSR waterways by the new EU 'Watch List' (WL) chemicals, emerging drugs, and nutrients, which are not subject to EU monitoring laws until 2020, but are building up in sediments in these waterways. Regulatory authorities do not know their levels, locations or impacts. Nor do they have the tools to assess sediments and make management decisions with regard to such chemicals. Through Work Package (WP) 3 - Sediment Assessment, this project will provide the tools for sediment assessment in order to enable better risk assessment and reduce economic costs. In WP4 - Clean-Up, this project will pilot innovative spore technology to remove selected WL chemicals at waste-water treatment plants (WWTPs) in order to bring about a reduction in their levels. Including an end-of-waste assessment approach, using WP3 and WP4-delivered data, will also promote future sediment re-use. One way that WL chemicals enter our waterways is through consumer use of everyday products. Through WP5 - Changing Behaviour, this project will target citizen behaviour to reduce the levels of specific WL chemicals arriving at WWTPs in pilot catchments. This project will therefore provide and validate new tools to assess, treat and prevent WL chemical contamination of the NSR waterways by bringing together scientific experts and regulators in a transnational partnership to address what is a transnational problem.

                  Researcher(s)

                  Research team(s)

                    Project type(s)

                    • Research Project

                    Sampling and analysis of micropolluatnts in Biota from aquatic systems in Flanders 28/07/2017 - 31/12/2019

                    Abstract

                    Aquatic ecosystems and waterbodies are under persistent stress of chemical pollutants, mainly of anthropogenic origin. High concentrations can harm entire ecosystems and be potentially toxic to humans. The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) obliges member states to monitor chemical compounds in surface waters and to set quality standards that protect against detrimental effects of toxic compounds. Generally, most of the target chemical compounds are able to be measured in water or sediment samples. However, the low water solubility of highly hydrophobic compounds precludes direct measurement in water. Accordingly, the WFD has formulated biota quality standards (BQS), for 11 priority compounds and their derivatives, which refer to concentrations of compounds that have to be monitored in fish and bivalves (biota). In the present study, bioaccumulation of hexachlorobenzene (HCBz), hexachlorobutadiene (HCBd), mercury (Hg), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), hexabromo-cyclododecane (HBCD), perfluoro-octaansulphonate (PFOS) and its derivatives, dicofol, heptachlor and heptachlor epoxide, and dioxins and dioxin-like compounds were measured in muscle tissue of perch (Perca fluviatilis) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla) originating from different Flemish water bodies. Fluoranthene and benzo(a)pyrene were measured in zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis), using active biomonitoring. In every sampling point at least one of both selected fish species could be collected. For fluoranthene an exceedance of the standard was observed in some sampling locations in zebra mussel, for benzo(a)pyrene there were some exceedances for both zebra and quagga mussel. Dioxin concentrations exceeded the standard in 4 sampling locations in eel muscle tissue. For PFOS, an exceedance of the standard was detected at almost every location for both fish species. The biota quality standard for Hg and PBDE was exceeded in every sampling location and for both fish species. One sample had PBDE concentrations below the quantification limit, which is more than 10 times higher than the BQS. Concentrations of HCBd and dicofol were below the quantification limit. Furthermore no exceedances of the standard were found for HCBz and HBCD. For heptachlor all measurements where below the quantification limits (40 times higher than the standard), cis-heptachlor epoxide exceeded the quantification limit in all except one location in eel muscle tissue and in 3 locations in perch muscle tissue. An overall trend of higher concentrations per wet weight in eel than in perch was detected. Nonetheless, after correction for lipid content, this trend was no longer present or even reversed with higher concentrations in perch muscle tissue, indicating the lipophilic properties of these compounds. This was true for all compounds – except for PFOS: in fact, this compound showed the exact opposite trend. Concentrations of PAHs were always higher in zebra mussel than in quagga mussel. This is possibly caused by the higher trophic position of the first. For both fish species, however, we could not find clear differences in trophic level. Finally, calculated concentrations using the passive samplers, compared to existing literature, show promising applicability and incites further development of this tool. Based on the results of the present study and – where possible – a comparison to data present in literature, it is evident that the existing biota quality standards for Hg, PBDE and PFOS are exceeded in all fish species from Flemish and European water bodies.

                    Researcher(s)

                    Research team(s)

                      Project type(s)

                      • Research Project

                      Microplastics in the marine environment: putting biodegradability in the picture. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2020

                      Abstract

                      Plastic pollution of the aquatic environment is one of the major environmental issues of our times: the World's plastic consumption is ever increasing, and, due to poor waste management, most of this endless stream of plastic enters the waterways, ultimately reaching the seas and oceans. Marine litter is a very visible issue, but there is more than meets the eye: in fact, plastic items in the aquatic environment undergo a process of degradation, due to biotic and abiotic agents, originating millions of tiny fragments – microplastics. These microplastics have been shown to accumulate inside biota, and to adsorb persistent pollutants present in the water, potentially transferring them to the organisms ingesting the microplastics. Substituting traditional with biodegradable plastics (particularly in single-use applications) has been proposed as a solution to the plastic pollution problem. But is this a good idea for the marine environment? This study proposes an experimental plan aiming to answer this question, by comparing the performance in three main areas of two biodegradable polymers, polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), to the oil-based polyethylene (PE). The comparison focuses on: degradation in the marine environment and microplastic formation; persistent pollutant adsorption on microplastics; and toxicity on two important marine species (the mussel, M. edulis, and sea bass, D. labrax) of both microplastics and microplastics contaminated with pollutants.

                      Researcher(s)

                      Research team(s)

                        Project type(s)

                        • Research Project

                        Sampling and analysis of metals in biota for the evaluation of sanitation of the Winterbee. Phase I: situation before the sanitation 10/11/2016 - 31/12/2017

                        Abstract

                        This project is part of a bigger project in which the effectiveness of the sanitation of the Winterbeek will be evaluated. The WInterbeek is small trubutary of the Scheldt basin and has been contaminated for several decades with metals. The Flemish Government decided to dredge the contaminated sediment in four different stages, starting in spring 2017. In order to assess the effectiveness of the sanitation metal levels will be assessed before, during and after the sanitation. In addition community structure of macro-invertebrates and fish will be assessed. This project is phase 1 in which the situation before the sanitation will be avaluated. Metals are measured in resident invertebrates and fish and in caged mussels. In addition the fish index and biological water quality is assessed.

                        Researcher(s)

                        Research team(s)

                          Project type(s)

                          • Research Project

                          Effects of combined exposure to metal mixtures and natural stressors on aquatic invertebrates: relating changes in metal uptake to altered behavior and ecological effects. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

                          Abstract

                          Metals are posing a worldwide threat to aquatic ecosystems. In the natural environment trace metals most often occur in different mixtures, in which metals can strongly interfere with each other, producing antagonistic, synergistic or additional toxic effects. Besides the presence of pollutants also natural stressors such as fluctuating temperature, food shortages and predators are present that might negatively affect organisms and alter metal bioavailability. Current environmental quality standards (EQS) however are mainly based on laboratory tests under strictly controlled conditions in which test organisms are exposed to single compounds for a limited period of time. Moreover, in the setting of environmental standards more sensitive endpoints such as behavior have never been used. As a result the current EQS for metals might result in under- or in overprotecting the environment. The aim of this study is to investigate the combined effects of metal mixtures and the natural stressors temperature, food and predation pressure on the behavior of three aquatic invertebrates. This behavior will be compared to classical endpoints, e.g. reproduction and growth. In addition effects on a whole aquatic community will be assessed in artificial streams and ponds. Combining metal mixtures with predator stress and assessing the effects of this combination on different levels of biological organization is highly innovative and will contribute to the development of ecological relevant EQS.

                          Researcher(s)

                          Research team(s)

                            Project type(s)

                            • Research Project

                            Filling knowledge gaps in the Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) of Perfluoralkyl compounds: an integrated field and laboratory approach using passerine birds as model system. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2017

                            Abstract

                            Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are substances which have been produced for more than five decades. Their unique properties of repelling both water and oil, make them suitable for many industrial and consumer applications such as water and dirt repellents for cloths and carpets, active components in firefighting foams or precursors in Teflon® production. Its extended use, together with their high persistence, resulted in a global contamination of the environment, wildlife and even humans. This ubiquity contrasts sharply with the limited information about their effects on organisms. With this study I will contribute to finding answers to fill some of the most important knowledge gaps in the toxicity mechanisms of these compounds. For this purpose, I will use two model bird species; great tits (Parus major) and canaries (Serinus canaria). Firstly, I will study the PFAAs exposure levels and the fitness consequences in free-living great tits along a PFAAs gradient from a fluorichemical plant in Antwerp, Belgium. Secondly, I will reproduce the exposure levels in captive canaries in order to replicate the results, found in the field, in a more controlled environment. The studied biomarkers will cover several levels of biological organization; from cellular to population response. As a result of the study, the PFAAs toxicity mechanisms will be better understood and their impact at an individual and population level can be more accurately forecast.

                            Researcher(s)

                            Research team(s)

                            Project type(s)

                            • Research Project

                            Mixed metal and temperature stress in aquatic environments establishing functional links across different levels of organisation. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019

                            Abstract

                            The aquatic environment is continuously challenged by anthropogenic stressors of which exposure to mixtures of chemicals is one of the most important. In most cases the resulting environmental impact is caused by a combination of natural and anthropogenic stressors with very different modes of action. In this project we explore the importance and nature of these interactions on three model species and a mesocosm scale simulated ecosystem.

                            Researcher(s)

                            Research team(s)

                              Project type(s)

                              • Research Project

                              WATERSIDE: Active Passive Water Pollution Sampling Device. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2017

                              Abstract

                              The project aims to develop an active passive water sampler for inorganic and organic pollutants. The apparatus allows the time integrated monitoring of surface waters and waste streams. A controlled water flux is directed across an array of sorbents which accumulate different classes of pollutants. The operational and kinetic characteristics of the sampler will be determined experimentally and the results compared with biota in lab and field conditions.

                              Researcher(s)

                              Research team(s)

                                Project type(s)

                                • Research Project

                                Field study biota standards. 01/09/2015 - 04/09/2017

                                Abstract

                                This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the VMM. UA provides the VMM research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                Researcher(s)

                                Research team(s)

                                  Project type(s)

                                  • Research Project

                                  Phase II partner programme (2015-2019) for the Institutional University Cooperation between the University of Limpopo and the Flemish universities. 01/04/2015 - 31/12/2019

                                  Abstract

                                  This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                  Researcher(s)

                                  Research team(s)

                                  Project type(s)

                                  • Research Project

                                  ENVIROSTRESS - Environmental Stress in a Rapidly Changing World. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2019

                                  Abstract

                                  This project represents a research contract awarded by the University of Antwerp. The supervisor provides the Antwerp University research mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions stipulated by the university.

                                  Researcher(s)

                                  Research team(s)

                                    Project type(s)

                                    • Research Project

                                    Toxicity of Perfluoralkyl Substances (PFAAs) to terrestrial invertebrates and songbirds. Effects at different levels of biological organization including behaviour and reproduction. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2018

                                    Abstract

                                    A group of environmental chemicals that has received increasing attention the last two decades are the Perfluoralkyl Substances or PFAAs. Since the 1950s, PFAAs have been used in high quantities because of their excellent surfactant behaviour in applications such as carpet coatings and food packaging. Their broad application and bioaccumulation potential has led to their worldwide detection in biota. Few studies, however, have investigated the effects of PFAAs on terrestrial wild organisms at environmentally realistic concentrations. The general objective of this proposal is to investigate the accumulation and effects of the most prevalent PFAAs in terrestrial organisms, including soil invertebrates and songbirds. Sampling sites will be established along a pollution gradient in the neighbourhood of a fluorochemical plant. Levels of PFAAs will be measured in soil, rain water, soil invertebrates and in songbirds. Besides accumulation, effects will also be assessed on the biota in an integrated way. We will look at physiological, reproductive and behavioural responses. This will be combined with laboratory experiments enabling us to disentangle causal links from confounding effects between PFAAs exposure and effects. In the laboratory invertebrates and songbirds will be exposed to a selection of PFAAs based on the results of the field study. The same endpoints as in the field will be assessed. This study will help policy makers to set environmental quality standards (EQS).

                                    Researcher(s)

                                    Research team(s)

                                      Project type(s)

                                      • Research Project

                                      Combined effects of metal mixtures and natural stressors on aquatic invertebrates: Relating changes in metal uptake to altered behavior and ecological effects. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

                                      Abstract

                                      Metals are posing a worldwide threat to aquatic ecosystems. In the natural environment trace metals most often occur in different mixtures, in which metals can strongly interfere with each other, producing antagonistic, synergistic or additional toxic effects. Besides the presence of pollutants also natural stressors such as fluctuating temperature, food shortages and predators are present that might negatively affect organisms and alter metal bioavailability. Current environmental quality standards (EQS) however are mainly based on laboratory tests under strictly controlled conditions in which test organisms are exposed to single compounds for a limited period of time. Moreover, in the setting of environmental standards more sensitive endpoints such as behavior have never been used. As a result the current EQS for metals might result in under- or in overprotecting the environment. The aim of this study is to investigate the combined effects of metal mixtures and the natural stressors temperature, food and predation pressure on the behavior of three aquatic invertebrates. This behavior will be compared to classical endpoints, e.g. reproduction and growth. In addition effects on a whole aquatic community will be assessed in artificial streams and ponds. Combining metal mixtures with predator stress and assessing the effects of this combination on different levels of biological organization is highly innovative and will contribute to the development of ecological relevant EQS

                                      Researcher(s)

                                      Research team(s)

                                        Project type(s)

                                        • Research Project

                                        La pollution par les métaux et les polluants organiques persistants au Pool Malebo, Kinshasa, RD Congo. 01/08/2014 - 31/07/2016

                                        Abstract

                                        This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                        Researcher(s)

                                        Research team(s)

                                          Project type(s)

                                          • Research Project

                                          Scaling ecotoxicological effects across levels of organization: towards an ecologically relevant evaluation of mixed toxicity. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2014

                                          Abstract

                                          The innovative aspect of our study is that we will perform environmentally relevant exposures under similar conditions (°T, test organisms, duration, mixture of pollutants) at three scales of exposure: in the laboratory, in semi-controlled mesocosms, and in in-situ exposures in the field. This will allow us to compare and connect the data obtained, despite the increasing complexity of confounding factors, and lead to a set of trustworthy biomarkers with ecological relevance.

                                          Researcher(s)

                                          Research team(s)

                                            Project type(s)

                                            • Research Project

                                            Field study biota standards. 31/07/2013 - 31/03/2014

                                            Abstract

                                            This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the VMM. UA provides the VMM research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                            Researcher(s)

                                            Research team(s)

                                              Project type(s)

                                              • Research Project

                                              The monitoring of three substances in biota in the surface waters of the Brussels Capital Region. 11/02/2013 - 11/08/2013

                                              Abstract

                                              This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest. UA provides Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                              Researcher(s)

                                              Research team(s)

                                                Project type(s)

                                                • Research Project

                                                Effect of climate on the fate and trophic transfer of POPs and mercury. A comparison of accumulation between organisms of the same trophic level in a temperate, subtropical and tropical region. 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2015

                                                Abstract

                                                The overall objectives of this study are (1) to assess the effect of climate on the fate of POPs and Hg in aquatic ecosystems, (2) to investigate food web magnification of Hg and POPs in a temperate, subtropical and tropical freshwater aquatic system and (3) to compare accumulation levels of Hg and POPs in organisms of the same trophic level from 3 distinct climatic regions.

                                                Researcher(s)

                                                Research team(s)

                                                  Project type(s)

                                                  • Research Project

                                                  Mesodrome. 26/04/2012 - 31/12/2017

                                                  Abstract

                                                  This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                                  Researcher(s)

                                                  Research team(s)

                                                    Project type(s)

                                                    • Research Project

                                                    Feasability study biota standards for hazardous substances - Measurement strategy for assessing biota standards. 01/04/2012 - 30/09/2012

                                                    Abstract

                                                    This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the VMM. UA provides the VMM research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                                    Researcher(s)

                                                    Research team(s)

                                                      Project type(s)

                                                      • Research Project

                                                      Effects of sediment-bound metals in the aquatic environment. Relationships between exposure, accumulation, internal distribution and the effects on macro-invertebrate community life. 01/01/2011 - 30/09/2012

                                                      Abstract

                                                      The main objective of the project is to investigate the effect of sediment-bound metals to the macroinvertebrate community composition, this in relation to metal exposure and accumulation. With this special attention is given to the presence of different metal binding sediment characteristics (o.a. Acid Volatile Sulfides, organic matter, iron- and manganese oxides,...), metal speciation and differences in species sensitivity and general ecology. Finally the obtained information will be used to find certain invertebrate species, which on the one hand can be used as a measurement for metal bioavailability in the aquatic ecosystem and on the other hand can serve as a predictor for the effects of metals on other, more sensitive organisms.

                                                      Researcher(s)

                                                      Research team(s)

                                                        Project type(s)

                                                        • Research Project

                                                        Evaluation l'incidence d'une antenne sur un site Natura 2000 en région Bruxelloise. 01/10/2010 - 31/03/2011

                                                        Abstract

                                                        L'objectif global de l'etude concernée par le présent cahier des charges est de définir les circonstances selon lesquelles il peut raisonnablement être considéré qu'une antenne n'est pas susceptible d'affecter de manière significative un site Natura 2000 en région bruxelloise.

                                                        Researcher(s)

                                                        Research team(s)

                                                          Project type(s)

                                                          • Research Project

                                                          Perfluor measurements. 01/09/2010 - 31/10/2010

                                                          Abstract

                                                          This project represents a formal service agreement between UA and on the other hand UGent. UA provides UGent research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                                          Researcher(s)

                                                          Research team(s)

                                                            Project type(s)

                                                            • Research Project

                                                            Development and validation of micro array derived biomarkers in ecological relevant exposure conditions for the common carp. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2013

                                                            Abstract

                                                            The central aim of the proposed research project is the development of microarray derived molecular biomarkers for micro pollutants in the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and validation of the selected set of biomarker genes under complex environmental relevant conditions. In order to be valuable in environmental risk evaluation the biomarker gene set has to meet several criteria.

                                                            Researcher(s)

                                                            Research team(s)

                                                              Project type(s)

                                                              • Research Project

                                                              Consequences on health, bio-accumulation and detoxificatie of metal at large grazers. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

                                                              Abstract

                                                              During this study, the effects of metals on horses and cows will be determined together with their metal accumulation and detoxification capacity. The relation between internal metal concentrations in liver, kidney, muscle and lung and non-destructive tissues (blood, hair and feces) will be measured. Different biomarkers in blood and organs will also be measured.

                                                              Researcher(s)

                                                              Research team(s)

                                                                Project type(s)

                                                                • Research Project

                                                                Sustainable management of soil and ground water under the pressure of soil pollution and soil contamination. 04/12/2009 - 31/12/2010

                                                                Abstract

                                                                Researcher(s)

                                                                Research team(s)

                                                                  Project type(s)

                                                                  • Research Project

                                                                  Determination PFOS and PFOA in PFNA eel - 60 samples. 23/11/2009 - 31/12/2009

                                                                  Abstract

                                                                  This project represents a formal service agreement between the parties Universiteit Antwerpen and INBO. UAntwerpen provides INBO research results on "Bepaling PFOS, PFOA en PFNA in paling - 60 stalen" under the conditions as stipulated in the present contract.

                                                                  Researcher(s)

                                                                  Research team(s)

                                                                    Project type(s)

                                                                    • Research Project

                                                                    Biogeochemical cycle of heavy metals in natutal freshwater tidal marshes and in flood control areas. 01/10/2009 - 31/12/2012

                                                                    Abstract

                                                                    As a transition zone between land and sea, estuaries accommodate specific and valuable ecosystems and often act as a filter for the load of nutrients and pollutants increased by human activities. Intertidal areas play a key role in these functions. The area of natural tidal wetlands can be extended by bringing the planned controlled flooding areas under influence of the tide. Within the pilot project of the controlled inundation area with controlled reduced tide (CRT) Lippenbroek and mesocosm experiment in Kruibeke it is the aim to have a clear view on the effect of the present metal contamination of the areas fringing the river Scheldt. The main interest will be metal bioavailability and the interaction with biota. We will investigate the total metal cycle in plants from uptake to decomposition. The biogeochemical cycle of metals will be compared between the CRT, embarked areas and natural tidal marshes.

                                                                    Researcher(s)

                                                                    Research team(s)

                                                                      Project type(s)

                                                                      • Research Project

                                                                      Perfluorinated Organics in our diet (PERFOOD). 01/08/2009 - 31/07/2012

                                                                      Abstract

                                                                      The aims of the present project are to assess the origin of PFCs in our diet and the diet's contribution to the total human exposure to PFCs. To that end the project will develop robust and reliable analytical tools for the determination of PFCs, and use these to (i) qualify and quantify PFCs in our diet; (ii) understand how PFCs are transferred from the environment into dietary items, and (iii) quantify the possible contribution of food/beverage contact materials and food and water processing to the overall PFC levels in our diet. The newly gained knowledge will enable us to evaluate the possible routes, including their relative importance, of human exposure to PFCs via our diet, to assess the role of the technosphere in the contamination of our food, and to identify ways to reduce the PFC contamination of dietary articles.

                                                                      Researcher(s)

                                                                      Research team(s)

                                                                        Project type(s)

                                                                        • Research Project

                                                                        Ecological and ecotoxicological quality of the Dommel after depopulation of the soil / Compilation of existing data / reports. Proposal to further measuring strategy. 30/07/2009 - 29/07/2010

                                                                        Abstract

                                                                        The main objective of this study is to combine / centralization and reporting of existing data (water-and water soil quality, fish populations, bioaccumulation) in an information system linked to GIS so as to come to a clear report of all research carried out before and after rehabilitation work of the Dommel.

                                                                        Researcher(s)

                                                                        Research team(s)

                                                                          Project type(s)

                                                                          • Research Project

                                                                          Functional-ecological study of the combined effects of predator- and pesticide stress on aquatic insects: from gen to community. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2012

                                                                          Abstract

                                                                          The central objective of this project is to evaluate to what extent biomarkers can be used to predict pollutant effects at the community level, with special attention for the interaction with predator stress and competition. Focus will be on studying the pesticide endosulfan, worldwide one of the most commonly used insecticides. Model organisms will be three aquatic insect groups: midge larvae (Chironomidae), water boatmen (Corixidae) and damselflies (Coenagrionidae).

                                                                          Researcher(s)

                                                                          Research team(s)

                                                                            Project type(s)

                                                                            • Research Project

                                                                            Analysis of pharmaceutical products in wastewater: development, validation and evaluation of a new and innovative model for their (rational) use. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2012

                                                                            Abstract

                                                                            The fundamental aim of this project is to develop and to validate a mathematical model to transform concentrations of the most prescribed and used pharmaceuticals and their metabolites of which the use is known (RIZIV) in waste water in an amount of used pharmaceuticals in Belgium (measured vs. predicted environmental concentrations).

                                                                            Researcher(s)

                                                                            Research team(s)

                                                                            Project type(s)

                                                                            • Research Project

                                                                            Effects of sediment-bound metals in the aquatic environment. Relationships between exposure, accumulation, internal distribution and the effects on macro-invertebrate community life. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2010

                                                                            Abstract

                                                                            The main objective of the project is to investigate the effect of sediment-bound metals to the macroinvertebrate community composition, this in relation to metal exposure and accumulation. With this special attention is given to the presence of different metal binding sediment characteristics (o.a. Acid Volatile Sulfides, organic matter, iron- and manganese oxides,...), metal speciation and differences in species sensitivity and general ecology. Finally the obtained information will be used to find certain invertebrate species, which on the one hand can be used as a measurement for metal bioavailability in the aquatic ecosystem and on the other hand can serve as a predictor for the effects of metals on other, more sensitive organisms.

                                                                            Researcher(s)

                                                                            Research team(s)

                                                                              Project type(s)

                                                                              • Research Project

                                                                              Consequences on health, bio-accumulation and detoxificatie of metal at large grazers. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

                                                                              Abstract

                                                                              During this study, the effects of metals on horses and cows will be determined together with their metal accumulation and detoxification capacity. The relation between internal metal concentrations in liver, kidney, muscle and lung and non-destructive tissues (blood, hair and feces) will be measured. Different biomarkers in blood and organs will also be measured

                                                                              Researcher(s)

                                                                              Research team(s)

                                                                                Project type(s)

                                                                                • Research Project

                                                                                BOF - University Research Fund: 1 year doctoral fellowship in view of a second IWT application (Jorina Baerts). 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2008

                                                                                Abstract

                                                                                The central aim of this project is to investigate the effects of micro contaminants on larvae of damselflies. Since these larvae are both prey and predator the play an important roe in fresh water ecosystems. Their presence, behavior, and sensitivity make them ideal model organisms in ecotoxicological research. More specifically the effect of micro pollutants on the behavior will be studied.

                                                                                Researcher(s)

                                                                                Research team(s)

                                                                                  Project type(s)

                                                                                  • Research Project

                                                                                  Biogeochemical cycle of heavy metals in natural freshwater tidal marshes and in flood control areas. 01/10/2007 - 31/12/2009

                                                                                  Abstract

                                                                                  As a transition zone between land and sea, estuaries accommodate specific and valuable ecosystems and often act as a filter for the load of nutrients and pollutants increased by human activities. Intertidal areas play a key role in these functions. The area of natural tidal wetlands can be extended by bringing the planned controlled flooding areas under influence of the tide. Within the pilot project of the controlled inundation area with controlled reduced tide (CRT) Lippenbroek and mesocosm experiment in Kruibeke it is the aim to have a clear view on the effect of the present metal contamination of the areas fringing the river Scheldt. The main interest will be metal bioavailability and the interaction with biota. We will investigate the total metal cycle in plants from uptake to decomposition. The biogeochemical cycle of metals will be compared between the CRT, embarked areas and natural tidal marshes.

                                                                                  Researcher(s)

                                                                                  Research team(s)

                                                                                    Project type(s)

                                                                                    • Research Project

                                                                                    Perfluoralkyl chemicals in the food chain: a risk analysis to support policy. (PERFOOD). 01/07/2007 - 30/04/2012

                                                                                    Abstract

                                                                                    This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Federal Public Service. UA provides the Federal Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

                                                                                    Researcher(s)

                                                                                    Research team(s)

                                                                                      Project type(s)

                                                                                      • Research Project

                                                                                      Development of a biodiversity chip for the biomonitoring of benthic ma-cro invertebrate communities. 01/07/2007 - 31/12/2011

                                                                                      Abstract

                                                                                      The Biological water quality in Flanders is assessed applying the Belgian Biotic Index (BBI). The aim of this proposal is the development of a biodiversity chip (DNA-array) for the identification of benthic macro invertebrate communities. We will start with the characterization of some key taxa of the BBI. With the biodiversity chip it will possible to assess the water quality in a correct and faster way compared to the classical identification of the BBI.

                                                                                      Researcher(s)

                                                                                      Research team(s)

                                                                                        Project type(s)

                                                                                        • Research Project

                                                                                        Cocaine and its metabolites in Belgian waste and surface water. 01/04/2007 - 31/03/2008

                                                                                        Abstract

                                                                                        Researcher(s)

                                                                                        Research team(s)

                                                                                        Project type(s)

                                                                                        • Research Project

                                                                                        Brominated flame retardant and perfluor compounds in Flanders. 15/03/2007 - 14/06/2009

                                                                                        Abstract

                                                                                        Researcher(s)

                                                                                        Research team(s)

                                                                                          Project type(s)

                                                                                          • Research Project

                                                                                          Task in the framework of the production of guidelines for nature management: Impact of wind dunes on the diffusion of heavy metals. 01/01/2007 - 30/09/2007

                                                                                          Abstract

                                                                                          Part of the wind dunes in the Flemish Campines are polluted with heavy metals. Due to the open character of these wind dunes the wind can blow freely and sand particles can thus be spread over long distances. This might be a means of transport of heavy metals. Another possible way for the heavy metals to spread from the wind dunes is through the groundwater. As these wind dunes act as infiltration areas the heavy metals can be transported away from the top soil layer with the infiltrating rainwater to surface elsewhere with the groundwater. The aim of this research is to get an insight in the amount of heavy metals that are spread from wind dunes through wind or groundwater. Therefore we will choose several bare and overgrown dunes in the study area BeNeKempen, here soil and water samples will be analysed. The selection of the sampling points will be able to tell us more about the spreading of heavy metals from wind dunes. The results shall be used to make a manual for the managers of the concerned areas. Possible measures will be proposed, such as the planting on wind dunes.

                                                                                          Researcher(s)

                                                                                          Research team(s)

                                                                                            Project type(s)

                                                                                            • Research Project

                                                                                            Layout of a guiding principle for nature administrators: usage and well-being of animals used for the managment of nature reserves. 01/01/2007 - 30/09/2007

                                                                                            Abstract

                                                                                            The aim of this project is to evaluate the effect of heavy metals on the health and the condition of cattle that are used for the managment of nature reserves situated in a heavy metal contaminated regio. Recomendations will be made to minimize or reduce the health risks of animals used in the contaminated reserves. Further the juridicial problems with transbondary nature managment applying grazers will be investigated.

                                                                                            Researcher(s)

                                                                                            Research team(s)

                                                                                              Project type(s)

                                                                                              • Research Project

                                                                                              Study into the impact of heavy metal pollution on aquatic communities for the sanitation of the Dommel. 03/11/2006 - 30/09/2007

                                                                                              Abstract

                                                                                              In this project the present impact of the Cd and Zn contamination on aquatic communities in the river Dommel will be assessed. This evaluation will serve as a reference situation before the sanitation of the sediment. At 8 sites along the polution gradient aquatic communities wil be invetarised; i.e. the diatom communities, macro invertebrates and fish. Also the bioavailability of the metals will be assessed by measuring the metal content in local organisms (invertebrates, aquatic plants and fish) and in transplanted zebra mussels.

                                                                                              Researcher(s)

                                                                                              Research team(s)

                                                                                                Project type(s)

                                                                                                • Research Project

                                                                                                Environmental Toxicology. 01/01/2006 - 31/12/2015

                                                                                                Abstract

                                                                                                The research will focus on two aspects of environmental toxicology : 1) Research on the bioavailability and accumulation of micro-pollutants by both aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Models that are able to predict accumulation of pollutants in organisms present in their natural environment will be constructed. 2) In the second part relationships will be studied between acuumulated levels (internal concentrations and internal distribution) and effects at different levels of biological organisation, with special attention to the effects at the community and ecosystem level.

                                                                                                Researcher(s)

                                                                                                Research team(s)

                                                                                                  Project type(s)

                                                                                                  • Research Project

                                                                                                  Second Expert Opinion on the Applicability of Cadmium Bioavailability in sediments (AVS/SEM concept). 14/12/2004 - 31/12/2005

                                                                                                  Abstract

                                                                                                  In this study a critical review is given of two documents composed by the metal Industry. In both documents the AVS/SEM concept is promoted as a valuable tool for the assessment of bioavailability of cadmium from sediments. In our study it was concluded that at the moment to many uncertainties exist in order to implement the AVS/SEM concept in a risc assessment. Additional resaerch is required in order to validate the concept under realistic field conditions.

                                                                                                  Researcher(s)

                                                                                                  Research team(s)

                                                                                                    Project type(s)

                                                                                                    • Research Project

                                                                                                    BERISP - Breaking Ecotoxicological Restraints in Spatial Planning. 04/01/2003 - 31/12/2008

                                                                                                    Abstract

                                                                                                    Researcher(s)

                                                                                                    Research team(s)

                                                                                                      Project type(s)

                                                                                                      • Research Project

                                                                                                      Physiological adaptation of the zebra mussel driehoeksmossel (Dreissena polymorpha) to metal stress. 01/01/2003 - 31/12/2006

                                                                                                      Abstract

                                                                                                      Researcher(s)

                                                                                                      Research team(s)

                                                                                                        Project type(s)

                                                                                                        • Research Project

                                                                                                        01/10/2002 - 30/09/2005

                                                                                                        Abstract

                                                                                                        Researcher(s)

                                                                                                        Research team(s)

                                                                                                          Project type(s)

                                                                                                          • Research Project

                                                                                                          Applicability of the zebra mussel for the assessment of water quality. 01/05/2002 - 30/04/2004

                                                                                                          Abstract

                                                                                                          Researcher(s)

                                                                                                          Research team(s)

                                                                                                            Project type(s)

                                                                                                            • Research Project

                                                                                                            Accumulation from sediments of micro pollutants in caged aquatic organisms. 15/11/2001 - 15/05/2002

                                                                                                            Abstract

                                                                                                            Researcher(s)

                                                                                                            Research team(s)

                                                                                                              Project type(s)

                                                                                                              • Research Project

                                                                                                              01/01/2001 - 31/12/2002

                                                                                                              Abstract

                                                                                                              Researcher(s)

                                                                                                              Research team(s)

                                                                                                                Project type(s)

                                                                                                                • Research Project

                                                                                                                01/10/2000 - 30/09/2002

                                                                                                                Abstract

                                                                                                                Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                Research team(s)

                                                                                                                  Project type(s)

                                                                                                                  • Research Project

                                                                                                                  Effects of metal pollution on the condition of an indigenous fish population in ecologically important streams 01/10/2000 - 30/09/2001

                                                                                                                  Abstract

                                                                                                                  The central goal of this project is to determine the effect of metal pollution on fish stocks in (potentially) ecologically valuable streams. To accomplish this, the distribution of metals in different compartments of the ecosystem will be described for two selected study areas. For one species, gudgeon (Gobio gobio), the relative importance of different means of exposure for mixtures of metals (water, food, sediment) will be determined under field as well as laboratory conditions.

                                                                                                                  Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                  Research team(s)

                                                                                                                    Project type(s)

                                                                                                                    • Research Project

                                                                                                                    The use of bird feathers as bio-indicators for heavy metal pollution, and study of the effects of this pollution on reproduction and health status in small insectivorous songbirds. 01/01/2000 - 31/12/2004

                                                                                                                    Abstract

                                                                                                                    In recent years, bird feathers have been used as an indicator tissue ofmetal exposure in birds. Bird feathers are ideal for assessment of heavy metals because they accumulate certain heavy metals in proportion to blood levels at the time offeather formation. Studying the effect of heavy metals on terfestrial songbirds by integrating reproductive, endocrinological, immunological and behavioural parameters is innovating

                                                                                                                    Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                    Research team(s)

                                                                                                                      Project type(s)

                                                                                                                      • Research Project

                                                                                                                      01/10/1999 - 30/09/2000

                                                                                                                      Abstract

                                                                                                                      Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                      Research team(s)

                                                                                                                        Project type(s)

                                                                                                                        • Research Project

                                                                                                                        Bioavailability and uptake of metals from complex metal-mixtures by midge larvae. 01/05/1999 - 30/04/2001

                                                                                                                        Abstract

                                                                                                                        Uptake and accumulation of metals is influenced by several factors. Besides chemical speciation and changing environmental conditions, metal uptake is affected by interactions of different metal ions present in the environment. The nature of these interactions will be studied by following the accumulation of the separate metals by midge larve, both in presence and absence of other metal ions and by using channel blockers.

                                                                                                                        Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                        Research team(s)

                                                                                                                          Project type(s)

                                                                                                                          • Research Project

                                                                                                                          Modelling the interactions of metals with particulate matter and organic complexes to predict the biological availability of metals in aquatic ecosystems 01/10/1997 - 31/12/1998

                                                                                                                          Abstract

                                                                                                                          The aim of this project is to study the contribution of different exposure routes, i.e. particulate matter, pore water and overlying water, on the uptake and bioaccumulation of cadmium and copper by larvae of the midge C. riparius. This research is part of a bigger project in which the effect of organic complexation on metal bioavailability is studied. Uptake is followed in freshwater organisms of different structural and functional levels (e.g. waterflea, midge larvae and carp.

                                                                                                                          Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                          Research team(s)

                                                                                                                            Project type(s)

                                                                                                                            • Research Project

                                                                                                                            Metallothioneins in aquatic organisms; comparison of methods for analysis and determination of critical body residues 01/05/1997 - 30/04/1999

                                                                                                                            Abstract

                                                                                                                            Metallothioneins (MT) are induced after exposure to trace metals. These proteins play an important role in the detoxification of metals, among others Cu, Zn, Cd and Hg. In the first part of the project different methods for the quantitative assessment of MTs in some aquatic organisms will be compared. In the second part of the project the induction of MTs is studied in different exposure situations. Simultaneously metal concentration will be measured in the tissues.

                                                                                                                            Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                            Research team(s)

                                                                                                                              Project type(s)

                                                                                                                              • Research Project

                                                                                                                              01/10/1996 - 30/09/1999

                                                                                                                              Abstract

                                                                                                                              Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                              Research team(s)

                                                                                                                                Project type(s)

                                                                                                                                • Research Project

                                                                                                                                01/10/1996 - 30/09/1997

                                                                                                                                Abstract

                                                                                                                                Researcher(s)

                                                                                                                                Research team(s)

                                                                                                                                  Project type(s)

                                                                                                                                  • Research Project