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Fate and effects of metals in the environment

Following the implementation of the REACH directive, it is necessary to submit data concerning the properties of numerous metals and metal compounds. In addition to solubility testing according to OECD guideline 105, it may also be necessary to test such compounds according to Chemicals Testing Monograph No. 29: Guidance Document on Transformation/ Dissolution of Metals and Metal Compounds in Aqueous Media (2001).

The guidance document describes a test system that determines the rate and extent to which metals and sparingly-soluble metal compounds can produce soluble available ionic and other metal-bearing species in aqueous media. At Fraunhofer IME, a T/D test system has been established that fulfills these guidance requirements. If appropriate, species specific elemental analysis can be offered, e.g. separation by ion chromatography and coupling with element-specific detection by ICP-OES or ICP-MS. The T/D test system is also suitable for the investigation of metallic nanoparticles.

The tests are also suitable for investigations into ecotoxicological problems (e.g. the consideration of bioavailability by using established bioligand models). According to regulatory requirements, we can investigate metals and metal compounds in bioconcentration tests (OECD 305) and higher-tier ecotoxicological test systems, such as microcosm studies for the investigation of fate and effects. The spectrum of methods offered by Fraunhofer IME allows to performing respective problem-specific chemical analyses.

For metals and metal compounds the investigation of bioaccessibility may be required. Here we offer to investigate the solubility of the test substances in simulated human body fluids (e.g. sudor or gastric acid).


Hommen, U., Knopf, B., Rüdel, H., Schäfers, C., Schamphelaere, K. de, Schlekat, C., Rogevich-Garman, E.:
A microcosm study to support aquatic risk assessment of nickel: Community-level effects and comparison with bioavailability-normalized species sensitivity distributions. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry [accepted article; open access] (DOI: 10.1002/etc.3255)

Nguetseng, R., Fliedner, A., Knopf, B., Lebreton, B., Quack, M., Rüdel, H.:
Retrospective monitoring of mercury in fish from selected European freshwater and estuary sites. Chemosphere 134 (2015) 427-434
(DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2015.04.094)

Rüdel, H., Díaz Muñiz, C., Garelick, H., Kandile, N. G., Miller, B. W., Pantoja Munoz, L., Peijnenburg, W. J. G. M., Purchase, D., Shevah, Y., Sprang, P. van, Vijver, M., Vink, J. P. M.:
Consideration of the bioavailability of metal/metalloid species in freshwaters: Experiences regarding the implementation of biotic ligand model-based approaches in risk assessment frameworks. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International: ESPR 22 (2015) No.10: 7405-7421 (DOI: 10.1007/s11356-015-4257-5)

Sonnack, L., Kampe, S., Muth-Köhne, E., Erdinger, L., Henny, N., Hollert, H., Schäfers, C., Fenske, M.:
Effects of metal exposure on motor neuron development, neuromasts and the escape response of zebrafish embryos. Neurotoxicology and Teratology 50 (2015) 33-42 (DOI: 10.1016/

Fliedner, A., Rüdel, H., Knopf, B., Weinfurtner, K., Paulus, M., Ricking, M., Koschorreck, J.:
Spatial and temporal trends of metals and arsenic in German freshwater compartments. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International ESPR 21 (2014) No. 8: 5521-5536 (DOI: 10.1007/s11356-013-2487-y)

Kaschak, E., Knopf, B., Petersen, J.H., Bings, N.H., König, H.:
Biotic methylation of mercury by intestinal and sulfate-reducing bacteria and their potential role in mercury accumulation in the tissue of the soil-living Eisenia foetida. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 69 (2014) 202–211 (DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.11.004)

Schäfers, C.:
Ecological approaches to aquatic ecotoxicology challenged by the needs of risk assessment. Fraunhofer IME (Hrsg.), Fraunhofer Verlag, Stuttgart (2013) 200 pp., ISBN 978-3-8396-0542-4 (Download)

C. Schäfers:
Umweltrisiko industrieller Wasserbausteine - Vorstellung eines Untersuchungskonzepts. In: Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde (Hrsg.)  Veranstaltungen: Umweltaspekte des Einsatzes von industriell hergestellten Wasserbausteinen in Bundeswasserstraßen. 5/2008: 107-119; ISSN 1866-220X  (Download)