Cefic-lri Programme | European Chemical Industry Council

ECO11 – UNEW: Towards rationally designed hazard, risk and persistency assessment: Putting the “bio” back into biodegradability tests

Principal Investigator

Dr. Russell Davenport
School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Cassie Building
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU
Tel: +44 191 2225544

Fax: +44 191 2226502


Dr. Jason Snape, Brixham Environmental Laboratory, AstraZeneca UK Ltd., UK, jason.snape@brixham.astrazeneca.com
Dr. Jon Ericson, Pfizer Global Research and Development, Pfizer Inc., USA, jon.f.ericson@pfizer.com
Dr. Torben Madsen, DHI, DK, tma@dhigroup.com
Dr. Anne R. Pedersen, DHI, DK,  arp@dhigroup.com

ECO 11.2, 11.3 & 11.4:
Graham Whale, Shell, UK
Dr Bob Rowles, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, UK, bob.rowles@cefas.co.uk
Dr. Jason Snape, Brixham Environmental Laboratory, AstraZeneca UK Ltd., UK, jason.snape@brixham.astrazeneca.com


ECO11: Towards rationally designed hazard, risk and persistency assessment: Putting the “bio” back into biodegradability tests

The objectives of this project are as follows:
Objective 1a.  Determine the extent and variation in microbial diversity of environmental sources used in biodegradation studies i.e. activated sludge, fresh-, estuarine- and marine-waters.
Objective 1b.  Examine the relationship between microbial diversity, cell density and the probability of biodegradation occurring for chemicals that have a range of environmental persistency.
Objective 2.  Compare different approaches to pre-concentrate biomass and their influence on microbial community composition.  These include sandwich filtration; centrifugation; tangential flow filtration; and biofilm development through the colonisation of glass beads.
Objective 3a.  Investigate the relationship between the test volume used in the biodegradation study, the microbial diversity introduced into the test, and the probability of observing degradation at a fixed initial test chemical concentration (i.e. study the impact of varied F:M).
Objective 3b.  Investigate the effect of proportionally increasing the inoculum density with initial test chemical concentration (i.e. fixed F:M) on biodegradation rates.
Objective 4.  Validate the enhanced biodegradation screening test using the CEFIC-LRI ECO12 reference chemicals for persistency, and publish the procedure in appropriate journals and submit the final protocol to the OECD or ISO test guidelines programme.

Click here to read the project summary.

ECO11.2: Ring test to revise the marine biodegradation screening test for persistence assessments (phase 1: SOP and ring test design development)

Based on the findings of ECO11, there was consensus that so-called “enhanced” or “improved” tests for persistence assessment should be ring tested for the marine environment with a set of reference validation chemicals. In the first phase of this project, standard operation procedures were developed and interest from contract research organisations gathered to participate in the ring test.

ECO11.3: Ring test to revise the marine biodegradation screening test for persistence assessments (phase 2: Ring test performance; phase 3: Data analysis and publication)

An improved marine biodegradation screening test (BST) protocol for persistence assessment incorporating both increased cell concentrations and test duration was assessed using a set of reference chemicals in a multi-institutional ring test across 13 laboratories in the UK, Norway, Germany, Italy, Canada, USA and Japan. In comparison to the standard marine BST (OECD 306 Closed Bottle Method), the improved marine BST was more reliable and less variable at characterising the environmental persistence of the reference compounds. Extending the test durations beyond 28 days allowed for a more reliable characterisation of environmental persistence.

ECO11.4: OECD 306 Ring Test Workshop: Improving Marine Biodegradation Screening Tests for Persistence Assessments

The findings of the ring test were discussed with academia, industry, contract research organisations and regulatory bodies at a workshop held at Newcastle University in 2018. This two-day workshop focussed on presentations and breakout sessions on the findings from the ring test and the next steps towards improved (marine) biodegradation screening. “Theory in practice” sessions gave the participants the opportunity to learn more about the analysis conducted in the ring test (tangential flow filtration for cell concentration, flow cytometry for cell counts and DNA sequencing for microbial community profiling) and their relevance for future biodegradation testing. During the breakout sessions, there was resounding support for the new method to be proposed as a new OECD test guideline.

Related Publications


Kowalczyk, A., Martin, T.J., Price, O.R., Snape, J.R., van Egmond, R.A., Finnegan, C.J., Schäfer, H., Davenport, R.J., Bending, G.D., 2015. Refinement of biodegradation tests methodologies and the proposed utility of new microbial ecology techniques. Ecotoxicol. Environ. Saf. 111, 9–22.

ECETOC, 2017. Improvement of the OECD 306 screening test. Workshop held at CEFAS laboratories, Lowestoft, UK 17-18 February 2015 and subsequent ring test No.34, Workshop Report. Brussels.

Martin, T.J., Goodhead, A.K., Acharya, K., Head, I.M., Snape, J.R., Davenport, R.J., 2017. High Throughput Biodegradation-Screening Test to Prioritize and Evaluate Chemical Biodegradability. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51, 7236–7244.

Martin, T.J., Snape, J.R., Bartram, A., Robson, A., Acharya, K., Davenport, R.J., 2017. Environmentally Relevant Inoculum Concentrations Improve the Reliability of Persistent Assessments in Biodegradation Screening Tests. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51, 3065–3073.

Martin, T.J., Goodhead, A.K., Snape, J.R., Davenport, R.J., 2018. Improving the ecological relevance of aquatic bacterial communities in biodegradability screening assessments. Sci. Total Environ. 627, 1552–1559.

Ott, A., Martin, T.J., Whale, G.F., Snape, J.R., Rowles, B., Galay-Burgos, M., Davenport, R.J., 2019. Improving the biodegradability in seawater test (OECD 306). Sci. Total Environ. 666, 399–404.

Amelie Ott, Timothy J.Martin, Jason R. Snape, Russell J. Davenport, Dec 2019. Increased cell numbers improve marine biodegradation tests for persistence assessment.

Ott A, Martin TJ, Acharya K, Lyon DY, Robinson N, Rowles B, Snape JR, Still I, Whale GF, Albright VC 3rd, Bäverbäck P, Best N, Commander R, Eickhoff C, Finn S, Hidding B, Maischak H, Sowders KA, Taruki M, Walton HE, Wennberg AC, Davenport RJ. Multi-laboratory Validation of a New Marine Biodegradation Screening Test for Chemical Persistence Assessment. Environ Sci Technol. 2020 Apr 7;54(7):4210-4220.

Selected presentations:

Ott A, Martin TJ, Whale G, Snape JR, Rowles B, Hubesch B, Davenport RJ. (May 2018), Findings from an international ring test for an improved marine biodegradation screening test. SETAC Europe 2018. Rome, Italy.

Selected posters:

Ott A, Martin TJ, Whale G, Snape JR, Rowles B, Hubesch B, Davenport RJ. (May 2017), Ring test to improve the OECD 306 marine biodegradation screening test. SETAC Europe 2017. Brussels, Belgium.

Ott A, Whale G, Martin TJ, Snape JR, Rowles B, Galay-Burgos M, Davenport RJ (May 2016). Workshop on the current status and steps needed to improve the OECD 306 marine biodegradation screening test. SETAC Europe 2016. Nantes, France.


  • ECETOC and ECO 11 funded workshop “Assessing Environmental Persistence”, 6-7 November 2012 in Paris; co-organised by representatives from ECETOC, Industry, the Federal Environment Agency of Germany (UBA) and the Environment Agency (EA) of England and Wales with 45 attendees from academia, regulatory agencies and industry.
  • ECETOC funded workshop “Improvement of the OECD 306 screening test”, 18-19 February 2015 at Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) in Lowestoft, UK; co-organised by Newcastle University and Cefas with 37 representatives from academia, industry and regulatory bodies.
  • Cefic LRI funded workshop “OECD 306 ring test workshop: Improving marine biodegradation screening testing”, 3-4 May 2018 at Newcastle University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK; organised by Newcastle University and the ring test steering committee with 34 representatives from academia, industry and regulatory bodies.


  • ECO11.1: January 2009 – December 2011
  • ECO11.2: December 2015 – March 2016
  • ECO11.3: September 2016 – December 2019
  • ECO11.4: February – July 2018

LRI funding:

  • ECO11.1: € 399 333
  • ECO11.2: € 49 797
  • ECO11.3: € 146 709
  • ECO11.4: € 7 141
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