Environmental Risk Assessment of Chemicals

Reliable statements about the environmental compatibility of chemical and biological agents, nanomaterials and products require the assessment of exposure levels and potential hazards. Our investigations encompass standard tests required e.g. for notification and labeling as well as complex studies addressing highly differentiated concerns.

In addition to experimental investigations and computer simulations, we work on the improvement of strategies and methods in the context of environmental risk assessments. The legislative framework comprises the EU-wide regulations on hazard and risk assessment for industrial chemicals (REACH), biocides, and human and veterinary medicinal products, as well as corresponding regulations in the USA and Japan.

The institute has obtained a GLP certificate for the relevant test categories.

Research, development and services

Standard studies for the notification and labeling of problematic industrial chemicals (including metals), biocides and pharmaceuticals:

Physico-chemical properties

Fate in the environment


Ecotoxicological effects

Effect and fate studies with nanomaterials

Complex studies for specific problems:

Modified standard tests for volatile, poorly soluble  and/or readily degradable substances, e.g. Water Accomodated Fraction (WAF) Tests

Fish-Full-Life Cycle-Tests

Micro-/mesocosm studies         

Model sewage treatment plants (open and closed system)      

Exposure assessments for chemical and biological agents in water, soil and consumer products by development/adaptation of exposure scenarios and exposure models

Testing the transformation/dissolution behavior and the bioaccessibility of metals and metal compounds including elemental species analysis       

Testing materials for the level of contamination with environmental chemicals

Development / adaptation of test and assessment strategies for ecological risk assessments

Expert reports on the environmental safety of chemical substance and products

Support for the registration and notification of chemical substances;
consultation in the context of REACH

Reviewing OECD Test Guidelines

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) had commissioned the two Fraunhofer Institutes IME and ITEM as well as Ramboll Deutschland GmbH to conduct a survey to review the OECD test guidelines. With the help of international expert groups, test guidelines were identified that currently do not correspond to the current state of science and technology. Only the OECD TGs used to assess environmental impacts were considered. After completing the surveys, the results were discussed in three thematic workshops. Recommendations for the revision of the OECD TGs were developed and prioritized, which were finally presented to the members of the Working Party of National Coordinators for the OECD Test Guidelines Program (WNT).

Read the report


Prof. Dr. Christoph Schäfers:

  • BMU, Commission for the Evaluation of Substances Hazardous to Water
  • DFG, Alliance Working Group: „Infrastructures in Terrestrial Research“
  • UBA, Working Group: Improvement of testing methods in the framework of the legislation on chemicals and substances, Sub-Group "Ecotoxicology, accumulation and dedradation in the environment"

Dr. Dieter Hennecke:

  • GDCh, Division "Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology" - Working Group "Soil", Chair

Dr. Heinz Rüdel:

  • IUPAC, Subcommittee on Chemical and Biophysical Processes in the Environment
  • GDCh, Division "Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology" - Working Group "Environmental Monitoring", Co-chair

Dr. Martin Müller:

  • GDCh, Division "Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology" - Working Group "Chemicals Assessment"

Dr. Karsten Schlich:

  • Bundesverband Boden, Section Soil Use and Soil Protection - Specialized Committee "Microplastics in soil"