Cefic-lri Programme | European Chemical Industry Council

ECO17-WAG: Evaluation of test methods for measuring toxicity to sediment organisms

Principal Investigator

Prof. Albert Koelmans
Wageningen University
Department of Environmental Sciences
PO Box 47,
6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 317 483201

Fax: +31 317 419000


Prof. Paul J. van den Brink, Wageningen University, NL, Paul.vandenbrink@wur.nl
Dr. Theo C.M. Brock, Wageningen University, NL, Theo.brock@wur.nl
Dr. Gertie H.P. Arts, Wageningen University, NL, Gertie.arts@wur.nl
Martine van den Heuvel-Greve MSc., Wageningen University, NL, Martine.vandenheuvel-greve@wur.nl

Prof. Hauke Smidt, Wageningen University, NL, Hauke.smidt@wur.nl


The primary aim of this project is to develop improved methods for assessing potential effects of contaminated sediments on aquatic microorganisms, plants and invertebrates within and across different taxonomic groups, to be applied in a regulatory context such as REACH.

The objectives of this project centre around four main questions:

(1) What are the uptake routes of toxicants (i.e. via water, food or particle ingestion) by benthic invertebrates, microorganisms and macrophytes, and how can uptake be parameterised?

(2) What are the opportunities and limitations when it comes to translating results of standard and additional laboratory toxicity tests using benthic invertebrates, microorganisms and macrophytes into ecological threshold concentrations of sediment-bound contaminants for sediment communities and processes?

(3) Can we integrate equilibrium or kinetic mass transfer submodels for bioavailability into individual-based models addressing population-level effects?

(4) How can we improve the current ERA schemes for contaminants in sediments using (a) transparent protection goals (b) evidence-based concepts for linking exposure and effects  (c) a single-species test battery that covers appropriate focal species representative of different exposure pathways and sediment communities, (d) higher-tier experimental population and/or community studies, and (e) integrated state-of-the-art exposure and population effect models, so that a tiered risk assessment scheme is achieved?

Project summary report (2014).

Related Publications

Diepens NJ, GHP Arts, TCM Brock, H Smidt, PJ Van den Brink, MJ Van den Heuvel-Greve, AA Koelmans, 2014. Sediment Toxicity Testing of Organic Chemicals in the Context of Prospective Risk Assessment: A Review, Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 44:3, 255-302.

Diepens NJ, GHP Arts, A Focks, AA Koelmans, 2014. Uptake, translocation and elimination in sediment-rooted macrophytes: A model-supported analysis of whole sediment test data. Environmental Science and Technology. 48:20, 12344-12353

Diepens NJ, MJ Van den Heuvel-Greve, AA Koelmans. 2015. Model-supported bioaccumulation assessment by battery testing allows read across among marine benthic invertebrate species. Environmental Science and Technology. 49:22, 13575-13585

Diepens NJ, MR Dimitrov, AA Koelmans, H Smidt. 2015. Molecular assessment of bacterial community dynamics and functional endpoints during sediment bioaccumulation tests. Environmental Science and Technology. 49:22, 13586-13595

Diepens NJ, AA Koelmans, H. Baveco, PJ Van den Brink, MJ Van den Heuvel-Greve, TCM Brock. 2016. Prospective environmental risk assessment for sediment-bound organic chemicals: A proposal for tiered effect assessment. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 235, 1-77

Diepens NJ, WHJ Beltman, AA Koelmans, PJ Van den Brink, H Baveco. 2016. Dynamics and recovery of a sediment exposed Chironomus riparius population: A modelling approach. Environmental pollution. 213, 741–750

Sidney LA, NJ Diepens, X Guo, AA Koelmans. Accepted. Development and application of sediment tests for freshwater benthic invertebrates. Aquatic Toxicology.


N.J. Diepens, G.H.P. Arts, T.C.M. Brock, H. Smidt, P.J. Van den Brink, M.J. van den Heuvel-Greve and A.A. Koelmans. Sediment toxicity testing of organic chemicals in the context of prospective risk assessment. Cefic-LRI 14th Annual Workshop, November 2012, Brussels, Belgium.

Timeline: March 2011 > March 2014

LRI funding: € 500 000

Cefic-Lri Programme Responsible Care

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