The Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology operated by Eawag and the EPFL is an application-oriented interface between science and practice. Its objective is to identify the impact of chemicals on the environment, to evaluate the risks and to minimise them.

Assessment of Water Quality: An adequate water quality can be maintained by minimising the contamination with chemical substances, preserving the natural water course and natural extension of the water bodies to the best possible extent and ensuring an adequate amount of water and a near-natural flow, if possible. Photo: Ecotox Centre

What happens when nanoparticles are leached out of the paint on the walls of buildings? What microcontaminants from everyday products such as cleaning or cosmetic products, medicines and crop protection products pose a threat to waterways? This is the type of question on which applied research focuses at the Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology (or Ecotox Centre for short) in Dübendorf (Zurich), an institute operated jointly by Eawag and the EPFL.

Linking research and practice

The aim of the 15 or so people working at the Ecotox Centre is to identify the effects that chemicals have on aquatic and terrestrial systems, to evaluate these effects and to draw attention to the risks. The Centre provides an important interface between research and application, and places special emphasis on knowledge management and knowledge and technology transfer. The Ecotox Centre acts as a hub, bringing together experts from science and the practical setting. It fills gaps in applied ecotoxicology with its own implementation-oriented projects and by means of scientific collaboration. 

Early warning system

An active dialogue with stakeholders in business and science helps to identify current problems at an early stage and to solve them. An important mission is to pass on expert knowledge and in this way to impart professional skills. The Ecotox Centre therefore provides services for the authorities and third parties, is involved in training and continuing education and makes the information it gathers accessible to others.

The Ecotox Centre is headquartered at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in the ETH Domain, in Dübendorf (Zurich). It has a second site, which specialises in terrestrial ecotoxicology, at the EPFL. The Ecotox Centre was established in 2008 under a mandate from the Federal Council and Parliament.