Analysis of chemical water quality and risk assessment for health and the environment

Chemical water quality

KWR conducts research into compounds in water and their possible impact on health and the environment. For this, we develop analytical-chemical methods, such as toxicological assays, models and databases. Our research generates knowledge about the behaviour of compounds, risks and possible solutions.

Analysing water quality: detecting contaminants

Our experts develop and test innovative methods – broad screening, for example – to measure compounds that are difficult to analyse. This involves using so-called ‘non-target’ or ‘suspect’ analysis to measure yet unknown compounds, which we then identify as best as possible. In the target-compound analysis, we focus on compounds that are difficult to measure, such as breakdown products and polar compounds. We also look at nanoparticles and microplastics. We implement the knowledge developed in laboratories. This assists in signalling the risks to health and the environment early on and, for example, in monitoring vulnerable drinking water abstraction areas. By specifically checking for the presence of traces of drugs in sewage water (Smart Sewage Water), we are also able to collect information concerning drug use.

Assessing risks to health and the environment

Once we know what compounds we are dealing with, we examine the (toxicological) risks: in the use of the compounds and in their possible presence in the water system. To do this, we use existing methods and models, and frequently also the combination of targeted chemical analyses and bioassays. We also develop our own innovative toxicological methods. Through the use of bioassays, we gain good insight into both the specific action of the compounds as well as the risks of mixtures. We also improve the interpretation of the bioassays. In this way we gain a more complete picture of water quality. In addition, we provide advice on measures to safeguard public health.

Monitoring water quality and analysing data

For purposes of good water management, we assist in the establishment of smart water quality monitoring plans. By using the right sensors and developing targeted algorithms, it is possible to extract the maximum amount of information from the data. By doing this online, the information is immediately available for use by managers in their process management and clients for information purposes.
We thus combine existing data from within and outside the water sector to provide more insight into the processes. We also test and validate new measurement technologies for implementation in the water sector.