Toxicological risk assessment

The number of substances found in water is increasing all over the world. This is the result of a rise in the use of substances, but also of the increasing quality and precision of the measurement methods. KWR conducts research on the quality of our drinking water and the sources of our drinking water, such as surface water and groundwater. KWR disposes of advanced laboratories that can measure both substances and microbiological parameters. In addition, we develop new measurement methods and conduct research on the effects of substances on humans and the environment.

The measured concentrations of individual substances are often so low that no health impact is expected. However, it is actually very important to closely and continuously monitor the concentration of substances in water, because they can increase, for instance, as a result of drought or the anticipated increased use of pharmaceuticals. This is why a close eye is kept on substances and emerging contaminants in (drinking) water, and KWR conducts extensive research on them.

Chemical Water Quality and Health

Toxicologists of the Chemical Water Quality and Health team, on commissions from governments and other clients, carry out risk assessments on substances in surface water, source water and process water. They also research so-called ‘combination toxicity’, in which the presence of several substances in combination constitutes a possible risk. Based on the risk assessment, a statement is made about the probability of the occurrence of adverse health effects. The toxicologists then make recommendations for protective measures and the communication of the possible risks.

Existing methods and models are used for the toxicological risk assessment. This involves testing against the health-based guideline values for water quality and, in their absence, the Threshold for Toxicological Concern. When necessary, these methods are supplemented with innovative methods, forecasts with computer models (QSARs), and effect-based measurements (bioassays). Research is directed at enabling the practical application of these innovative methods. This involves examining the selection and interpretation of effect-based measurement with bioassays, with the aim, among others, of prioritising complementary research.