Whole effluent assessment of industrial wastewater for determination of bat compliance

Part 1: paper manufacturing industry
  • Stefan Gartiser
  • Christoph Hafner
  • Christoph Hercher
  • Kerstin Kronenberger-Schäfer
  • Albrecht Paschke
Research Article


Background, aim and scope

The applicability of the Whole Effluent Assessment concept for the proof of compliance with the “best available techniques” has been analysed with paper mill wastewater from Germany by considering its persistency (P), potentially bio-accumulative substances (B) and toxicity (T).

Materials and methods

Twenty wastewater samples from 13 paper mills using different types of cellulose fibres as raw materials have been tested in DIN or ISO standardised bioassays: the algae, daphnia, luminescent bacteria, duckweed (Lemna), fish-egg and umu tests with lowest ineffective dilution (LID) as test result. The potentially bio-accumulative substances (PBS) were determined by solid-phase microextraction and referred to the reference compound 2,3-dimethylnaphthalene. Usually, a primary chemical–physical treatment of the wastewater was followed by a single or multi-stage biological treatment. One indirectly discharged wastewater sample was pre-treated biologically in the Zahn–Wellens test before determining its ecotoxicity.


No toxicity or genotoxicity at all was detected in the acute daphnia and fish egg as well as the umu assay. In the luminescent bacteria test, moderate toxicity (up to LIDlb = 6) was observed. Wastewater of four paper mills demonstrated elevated or high algae toxicity (up to LIDA = 128), which was in line with the results of the Lemna test, which mostly was less sensitive than the algae test (up to LIDDW = 8). One indirectly discharged wastewater sample was biodegraded in the Zahn–Wellens test by 96% and was not toxic after this treatment. Low levels of PBS have been detected (median 3.27 mmol L−1). The colouration of the wastewater samples in the visible band did not correlate with algae toxicity and thus is not considered as its primary origin. Further analysis with a partial wastewater stream from thermomechanically produced groundwood pulp (TMP) revealed no algae or luminescent bacteria toxicity after pre-treatment of the sample in the Zahn–Wellens test (chemical oxygen demand elimination 85% in 7 days). Thus, the algae toxicity of the respective paper mill cannot be explained with the TMP partial stream; presumably other raw materials such as biocides might be the source of algae toxicity.


Comparative data from wastewater surveillance of authorities confirmed the range of ecotoxicity observed in the study. Wastewater from paper mills generally has no or a moderate ecotoxicity (median LID 1 and 2) while the maximum LID values, especially for the algae and daphnia tests, are considerably elevated (LIDA up to 128, LIDD up to 48).


Wastewater from paper mills generally is low to moderately ecotoxic to aquatic organisms in acute toxicity tests. Some samples show effects in the chronic algae growth inhibition test which cannot be explained exclusively with colouration of the samples. The origin of elevated algae ecotoxicity could not be determined. In the algae test, often flat dose–response relationships and growth promotion at higher dilution factors have been observed, indicating that several effects are overlapping.

Recommendations and perspectives

At least one bioassay should be included in routine wastewater control of paper mills because the paper manufacturing industry is among the most water consuming. Although the algae test was the most sensitive test, it might not be the most appropriate test because of the complex relationship of colouration and inhibition and the smooth dose–effect relationship or even promotion of algae growth often observed. The Lemna test would be a suitable method which also detects inhibitors of photosynthesis and is not disturbed by wastewater colouration.


Wastewater ordinance Paper manufacturing industry Ecotoxicity Genotoxicity Algae test Vibrio fischeri assay Daphnia test Umu assay Fish-egg test Lemna test Zahn–Wellens test Potential bio-accumulating substances Whole effluent assessment WEA OSPAR 



The authors thank Ms. Andrea Brunswik-Titze, Ms. Yvonne Ziser, Ms. Svetlana Lamert (Hydrotox) for the performance of ecotoxicity tests and Mr. Uwe Schröter, Ms. Susann Arnold and Ms. Maria Höher (UFZ Leipzig) for the PBS determination. We kindly acknowledge the financial support of the investigations by the German Federal Environmental Protection Agency (UBA) within the project FKZ 206 26 302 and dedicate this paper to the commemoration of Ms. Monika Pattard as expert advisor from the UBA.


  1. Diehl K, Hagendorf U (1998) Datensammlung Biotests. Umweltbundes amt, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  2. Diehl K, Bütow E, Hussels U (2003) Erhebung von Biotestdaten des Zeitraumes 1997–2000 als ein wesentliches Element der Ableitung ordnungsrechtlicher Vorgaben. Umweltbundes amt, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  3. DIN 38412-26 (1994-05) Abbau- und Eliminations-Test für Tenside zur Simulation kommunaler Kläranlagen.Google Scholar
  4. European Commission (2001) Reference document on best available techniques in the pulp and paper industry. Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), Sevilla, December 2001
  5. Gartiser S, Hafner C, Hercher C, Kronenberger-Schäfer K (2008) Branchenbezogene Wirktestdaten für die Neukonzipierung der Abwasserverordnung. Abschlussbericht Forschungsvorhaben Nr. 206 26 302 im Auftrag des Umweltbundesamtes, September 2008Google Scholar
  6. Gartiser S, Hafner C, Oeking S, Paschke A (2009) Results of a "Whole Effluent Assessment" study from different industrial sectors in Germany according to OSPAR’s WEA strategy. J Environ Monit 11:359–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hall TJ, Ragsdale RL, Arthurs WJ, Ikoma J, Borton DL, Cook DL (2009) A long-term, multitrophic level study to assess pulp and paper mill effluent effects on aquatic communities in four us receiving waters: characteristics of the study streams, sample sites, mills, and mill effluents. Integr Environ Assess Manag 5(2):199–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. ISO 5667-16 (1998) Water quality—sampling—part 16: guidance on biotesting of samplesGoogle Scholar
  9. Karrasch B, Parra O, Cid H, Mehrens M, Pacheco P, Urrutia R, Valdovinos C, Zaror C (2006) Effects of pulp and paper mill effluents on the microplankton and microbial self-purification capabilities of the Biobío River, Chile. Sci Total Environ 359(1–3):194–208Google Scholar
  10. Kovacs TG, Ferguson SM (1990) An assessment of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment protocols for conducting Daphnia magna acute lethal toxicity tests with pulp and paper mill effluents. Environ Toxicol Chem 9(8):1081–1093Google Scholar
  11. LAWA 2009 AQS-Merkblätter für die Wasser-, Abwasser- und Schlammuntersuchung. Ergänzbare Sammlung von Merkblättern zu den AQS-Rahmenempfehlungen der Bund/Länder-Arbeitsgemeinschaft Wasser (LAWA), Erich Schmidt Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  12. Leslie H A (2006) SPME as a tool in WEA – CONCAWE contribution to OSPAR demonstration project 2005-2006 – final report on measuring potentailly bioaccumulative substances in effluents: interlaboratory study workshop and review. Report No. C020/06, CONCAWE, Brussels, Belgium & RIVO-Netherlands Institute of Fisheries Research, Ymuiden, NLGoogle Scholar
  13. Leslie H A Leonards P E G (2005) Determination of potentially bioaccumulatable substances (PBS) in whole effluents using biomimetic solid-phase microextraction (SPME). OSPA-IEG on WEA Interlaboratory Study 2005, RIVO, Ymuiden, NL 2005Google Scholar
  14. Milestone CB, Fulthorpe RR, Stuthridge TR (2004) The formation of colour during biological treatment of pulp and paper wastewater. Water Sci Technol 50(3):87–94Google Scholar
  15. Oberemm A (2000) The use of a refined zebrafish embryo bioassay for the assessment of aquatic toxicity. LabAnimal 29:32–41Google Scholar
  16. OECD (1999) Environmental requirements for industrial permitting country profiles on the pulp and paper sector - Part 2. Working party on pollution prevention and control, Paris 15-Sep-1999Google Scholar
  17. OSPAR Hazardous Substances Committee (HSC) (2000) : OSPAR Background document concerning the elaboration of programmes and measures relating to whole effluent assessment. Report 117
  18. OSPAR Hazardous Substances Committee (2007) OSPAR’s practical guidance document on whole effluent assessment. OSPAR intersessional expert group on whole effluent assessment (WEA), OSPAR hazardous substances series 316, 33 pages
  19. Robinson RD, Carey JH, Solomon KR, Smith JR, Servos MR, Munkittrick KR (1994) Survey of receiving water environmental impacts associated with discharges from pulp mills 1: mill characteristics, receiving water chemical profiles and lab toxicity tests. Environ Toxicol Chem 13(7):1075–1088Google Scholar
  20. Waste Water Ordinance (2004) AbwV (Ordinance on requirements for the discharge of waste water into waters), Promulgation of the new version of the waste water ordinance of 17 June 2004 (Federal Law Gazette BGBl. I p 1108).

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Gartiser
    • 1
  • Christoph Hafner
    • 1
  • Christoph Hercher
    • 1
  • Kerstin Kronenberger-Schäfer
    • 1
  • Albrecht Paschke
    • 2
  1. 1.Hydrotox GmbHFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of EcologyHelmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany

Personalised recommendations