© Fraunhofer IME

Environmental Specimen Bank

The Fraunhofer IME has been one of the partners of the German Environmental Specimen Bank since the year 2000. On behalf of the German Federal Environmental Agency, we process annual samples to form homogenized specimens (cryogenic milling), operate the archive of the environmental specimen bank (cryogenic storage), and perform element and element-species analyses of environmental samples (Rüdel et al. 2010).

In the framework of the Environmental Specimen Bank program Fraunhofer IME also performs retrospective analyses to investigate archived samples for their content of currently relevant chemical substances. For example, this is a possibility to monitor the success of a substance ban by governmental agencies or of manufacturers’ voluntary restrictions on the use of a specific substance which should result in a decrease of the environmental concentrations of the banned chemical.

The results obtained in the monitoring studies are compiled in reports and, if approved by the sponsor, published in scientific journals. Examples are investigations on organotin compounds in mussels from the North and Baltic Sea (Rüdel et al. 2009), on perfluorinated compounds in different organisms of the marine food web (Rüdel et al. 2011) or on triclosan and methyltriclosan in freshwater fish (Böhmer et al. 2004). 

Video clips about working methods of the German Environmental Specimen Bank

The videos were produced on behalf of and funded by the Federal Environment Agency.

Preparation of specimens for archiving. (mp4)

Alternative clip as flv-file.

Storage in the environmental specimen bank. (mp4)

Alternative clip as flv-file.

Analysis of mercury in specimens of the environmental specimen bank. (mp4)

Alternative clip as flv-file.

Selected publications

Koschorreck, J., Heiss, C., Wellmitz, J., Fliedner, A., Rüdel, H.:
The use of monitoring data in EU chemicals management — experiences and considerations from the German environmental specimen bank.  Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Vol 22 (3) (2015) 1597-1611 (DOI: 10.1007/s11356-014-2897-5)

Paulus, M., Teubner, D., Rüdel, H., Klein, R.:
Bioaccumulation and long-term monitoring in freshwater ecosystems – knowledge gained from 20 years of zebra mussel analysis by the German Environmental Specimen Bank.
In: R.H. Armon, O. Hänninnen (eds.) Environmental Indicators, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (2015) 781-803
(DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9499-2_44)

Rüdel, H.:
Use of environmental specimen banks for investigations of emerging substances: Examples for freshwater fish monitoring studies. Network of Reference Laboratories for Monitoring of Environmental Substances. Norman Bulletin. Online Journal (2012) No. 3: 5 - 7  

Weinfurtner, K., Fliedner, A.:
Umweltprobenbank des Bundes – Auswertung der Analysen von Schwebstoffproben aus den Jahren 2005 bis 2009. Umweltbundesamt (2012) 67 pp. (Download)

Rüdel, H., Müller, J., Jürling, H., Bartel-Steinbach, M.,  Koschorreck, J.:
Survey of patterns, levels, and trends of perfluorinated compounds in aquatic organisms and bird eggs from representative German ecosystems. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. (2011) 18:1457–1470 (DOI: 10.1007/s11356-011-0501-9)

Rüdel, H., Fliedner, A., Kösters, J., Schröter-Kermani, C.:
Twenty years of elemental analysis of marine biota within the German Environmental Specimen Bank — a thorough look at the data. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 17 (2010) 1025-1034 (DOI: 10.1007/s11356-009-0280-8)

Rüdel, H., Steinhanses, J., Müller, J., Schröter-Kermani, C.:
Retrospektives Monitoring von Organozinnverbindungen in biologischen Proben aus Nord- und Ostsee – sind die Anwendungsbeschränkungen erfolgreich? - Beitragsserie Meeresforschung. Umweltwiss. Schadst. Forsch. 21 (2009) 282-291
(DOI: 10.1007/s12302-009-0039-3)