Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 21, pp 16405–16416 | Cite as

Fish embryo tests with Danio rerio as a tool to evaluate surface water and sediment quality in rivers influenced by wastewater treatment plants using different treatment technologies

  • Paul ThellmannEmail author
  • Heinz-R. Köhler
  • Annette Rößler
  • Marco Scheurer
  • Simon Schwarz
  • Hans-Joachim Vogel
  • Rita Triebskorn
Danio rerio as a Model in Aquatic Toxicology and Sediment Research


In order to evaluate surface water and the sediment quality of rivers connected to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with different treatment technologies, fish embryo tests (FET) with Danio rerio were conducted using native water and sediment samples collected upstream and downstream of four WWTPs in Southern Germany. Two of these WWTPs are connected to the Schussen River, a tributary of Lake Constance, and use a sand filter with final water purification by flocculation. The two others are located on the rivers Schmiecha and Eyach in the area of the Swabian Alb and were equipped with a powdered activated carbon stage 20 years ago, which was originally aimed at reducing the release of stains from the textile industry. Several endpoints of embryo toxicity including mortality, malformations, reduced hatching rate, and heart rate were investigated at defined time points of embryonic development. Higher embryotoxic potentials were found in water and sediments collected downstream of the WWTPs equipped with sand filtration than in the sample obtained downstream of both WWTPs upgraded with a powdered activated carbon stage.


Sediment Toxicity Fish embryo test Wastewater Powdered activated carbon 



The study is part of the SchussenAktivplus project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and co-funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector, Baden-Württemberg. SchussenAktivplus is connected to the BMBF action plan “Sustainable water management (NaWaM)” and is integrated into the BMBF framework programme “Research for sustainable development FONA”. It is part of the funding measure, “Risk Management of Emerging Compounds and Pathogens in the Water Cycle (RiSKWa)” (contract period: January 2012 to June 2015; funding number: 02WRS1281A). The studies at the WWTPs Albstadt-Ebingen and Albstadt-Lautlingen were funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector, Baden-Württemberg, and Albstadt town. Particular thanks go to Katharina Greiner-Perth, Stefanie Jacob, Heinz Krause, Steffen Metzger, Raphaela Osterauer, Doreen Richter, and Karl Wurm and all colleagues who were involved in the sampling campaigns and analytics.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Thellmann
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  • Heinz-R. Köhler
    • 1
  • Annette Rößler
    • 2
  • Marco Scheurer
    • 3
  • Simon Schwarz
    • 1
  • Hans-Joachim Vogel
    • 4
  • Rita Triebskorn
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Animal Physiological EcologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Competence Centre for Trace Substances Baden-Württemberg (KomS), c/o University of StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.Water Technology Centre Karlsruhe (TZW)KarlsruheGermany
  4. 4.Regional Commission (RP) TübingenTübingenGermany
  5. 5.Steinbeis Transfer-Center for Ecotoxicology and EcophysiologyRottenburgGermany
  6. 6.Animal Physiological Ecology, Institute for Evolution and EcologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany

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