Effluents from point sources (industries, communities) and diffuse inputs introduce pollutants into the water of the river Rhine and cause a basic contaminant load. The aim is to establish a biological warning system to detect increased toxicity in addition to the already existing chemical-physical monitoring system. To cover a wide range of biocides, continuous working biotests at different trophic levels (bacteria, algae, mussels, water fleas, fishes) have been developed and proved. These are checked out for sensitivity against toxicants, reaction time, validity of data and practical handling under field conditions at the river. Test-specific appropriate methods are found to differentiate between the normal range of variation and true alarm signals.

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