Group Leader: Janet Tang
Senior collaborators: Matti Lang, Jochen Mueller, Beate Escher, Caroline Gaus


Bringing environmental risk assessment from anecdotal evidence to a structured and process-oriented approach. 

Research Topics

Development of concepts and tools for water quality assessment and evaluation of treatment efficiency in drinking water, recycled water and stormwater. Application of mechanism-based in vitro bioassays and in vivo zebrafish embryo toxicity tests for environmental monitoring. Development of novel passive dosing techniques for bioaccumulation and bioavailability assessments.

Long-term Objectives

- To develop methods and tools for the risk assessment of organic micropollutants and for effect-based assessment for water and sediment quality monitoring.
- To understand the causative processes leading to adverse effects by micropollutants and to translate these findings into predictive models for hazard and risk assessment, e.g. in the form of Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships (QSAR).


Twenty laboratories around the world have conducted 103 unique in vitro bioassays on a common set of 10 water samples collected in South East Queensland, Australia. These samples included wastewater treatment plant effluent, recycled water (after microfiltration, reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation or after ozonation/activated carbon filtration), stormwater, surface water and drinking water. We found that the most relevant endpoints were related to xenobiotic metabolism (i.e., arylhydrocarbon receptor AhR and pregnane X receptor PXR), hormone-mediated modes of action (e.g., estrogen ER, glucocorticoid GR and antiandrogen AR- activities), reactive modes of action (genotoxicity) and adaptive stress response pathway (oxidative stress response).
Escher et al., 2014. Benchmarking Organic Micropollutants in Wastewater, Recycled Water and Drinking Water with In Vitro Bioassays. Environmental Science and Technology, 48, 1940-1956.

2013 Water RA Honours Scholarship recipient Elissa O'Malley was awarded the Queensland AWA (Australian Water Association) Undergraduate Water Prize.

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