Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Continuous water pollution monitoring using fish

Biological in line testing of industrial effluents using fish was developed to maturity. Problems with an existing fish test system were removed one by one, leading to a reduction of the signal to noise ratio and suppression of false alarms.

Long term trials were performed within 3 Dutch chemical and petrochemical industry plants. The events recorded by the fish could not always be traced back to chemical agents; however, false alarms being virtually excluded by the arrangement of the assay, this indicated that fish are well suited to detect hazards that are not detected by routine chemical monitoring. Annual depreciation and operating costs of the in line fish test assay are calculated at approximately 9000 ECU, thus providing a rather inexpensive proof of industry's compliance with effluent water quality requirements.

The value of the fish test lies in: identifying the location, magnitude and frequency of industrial spills in general; triggering sampling for more extensive chemical and biological analyses, indicating the need for and monitoring the progress of good housekeeping measures, reliably and at low cost.

The fish test system is a further step towards biomonitoring and directly measuring the toxicity of effluents integrating over all compounds contained, thus preventing the need to analyse all the chemical compounds and adding up their toxicities, with doubtful results. Reconsideration of the monitoring philosophy towards biomonitoring will be necessary; the test system provides one of the tools to be used for regulatory action.

Reported by

BKH Consulting Engineers
Poortweg 10 PO Box 5094
2600 GB Delft
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