Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN

Bern, Switzerland

Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN

Bern, Switzerland

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Kammerhofer A.W.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN
WCTE 2016 - World Conference on Timber Engineering | Year: 2016

Wood is an ingenious raw and construction material and offers the possibility for a substantial contribution to solving climate and energy challenges for society, economy and the environment. In order to make this potential available - in political and market context - there is a need for a resource policy approach, a need for cooperation between all state levels and private sectors as well as with other sectoral-policies. Research and development is also necessary for essential innovations (in processes, products, material flow and systems) in addition for product and market development.


Gotz C.W.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Stamm C.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Fenner K.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Fenner K.,ETH Zurich | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research | Year: 2010

Background, aim, and scope: Aquatic microcontaminants (MCs) comprise diverse chemical classes, such as pesticides, biocides, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and industrial chemicals. For water pollution control and the evaluation of water protection measures, it is crucial to screen for MCs. However, the selection and prioritization of which MCs to screen for is rather difficult and complex. Existing methods usually are strongly limited because of a lack of screening regulations or unavailability of required data. Method and models: Here, we present a simple exposure-based methodology that provides a systematic overview of a broad range of MCs according to their potential to occur in the water phase of surface waters. The method requires input of publicly available data only. Missing data are estimated with quantitative structure-property relationships. The presented substance categorization methodology is based on the chemicals' distribution behavior between different environmental media, degradation data, and input dynamics. Results: Seven different exposure categories are distinguished based on different compound properties and input dynamics. Ranking the defined exposure categories based on a chemical's potential to occur in the water phase of surface waters, exposure categories I and II contain chemicals with a very high potential, categories III and IV contain chemicals with a high potential, and categories V and VI contain chemicals with a moderate to low potential. Chemicals in category VII are not evaluated because of a lack of data. We illustrate and evaluate the methodology on the example of MCs in Swiss surface waters. Furthermore, a categorized list containing potentially water-relevant chemicals is provided. Discussion: Chemicals of categories I and III continuously enter surface waters and are thus likely to show relatively steady concentrations. Therefore, they are best suited for water monitoring programs requiring a relatively low sampling effort. Chemicals in categories II and IV have complex input dynamics. They are consequently more difficult to monitor. However, they should be considered if an overall picture is needed that includes contaminants from diffuse sources. Conclusions: The presented methodology supports compound selection for (a) water quality guidance, (b) monitoring programs, and (c) further research on the chemical's ecotoxicology. The results from the developed categorization procedure are supported by data on consumption and observed concentrations in Swiss surface waters. The presented methodology is a tool to preselect potential hazardous substances based on exposure-based criteria for policy guidance and monitoring programs and a first important step for a detailed risk assessment for potential microcontaminants. © Springer-Verlag 2009.


Reinhardt M.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN | Kozel R.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN | Zimmermann S.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN | Rupp H.,Swiss Federal Office of Public Health FOPH | And 2 more authors.
IAHS-AISH Publication | Year: 2011

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFC) are the subject of increasing public concern. Due to their hydro- and oleo-phobic properties, they are used in diverse industrial processes, and occur in several consumer products. The thermal and chemical stability of certain PFC has resulted in their global distribution in the environment. In a pilot study of the Swiss National Groundwater Monitoring NAQUA, PFC were detected at 21 of 49 sampled NAQUA monitoring sites. Except for one monitoring site, concentrations were below 100 ng/L, in most cases even below 10 ng/L. The highest concentrations were generally recorded for Perfluoroctanesulfonate (PFOS). All monitoring sites at which PFC were detected are situated in unconsolidated aquifers along rivers. The discharge of treated or untreated wastewater into rivers and streams and the subsequent infiltration of these waters into groundwater appear to be the major source of PFC in Swiss groundwater. Copyright © 2011 IAHS Press.


Schuerch R.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN | Kaenzig J.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN | Jungbluth N.,ESU services Ltd. | Nathani C.,RutterPartner
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2012

The discussion forum on life cycle assessment (LCA) on September 15, 2011, aimed at summarizing recent environmentally extended input-output analysis (EE-IOA) and the combination with LCA for the computation of environmental impact of imports. Input-output tables (IOT) represent the financial flows in a country or economic regions. Extending IOT with information on emissions and resource uses allows for the analysis of environmental impacts due to production and consumption activities in a country. This instrument is called EE-IOA. It enables the analysis of total environmental impacts of countries or economic regions. The combination with trade statistics and LCAwas presented as an alternative to multiregional input-output models for determining environmental impacts of imports over the whole life cycle. The 45th LCA forum gathered several international speakers who provided a broad and qualified view on the topic. The theoretical background, results for different countries and regions, uncertainties, and possible improvement options for EE-IOAwere discussed. The following main conclusions were drawn at the end of the discussion forum: EE-IOA is a useful instrument for analyzing the total environmental impacts of countries and the main drivers of environmental impacts. As a next important step, the participants would like to see an increase in user friendliness of EEIOA combined with LCA, e.g., by harmonizing data, data formats, and classifications. © Springer-Verlag 2012.


Schmid P.,Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology | Bogdal C.,ETH Zurich | Wang Z.,ETH Zurich | Azara V.,Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology | And 2 more authors.
Chemosphere | Year: 2014

In fireworks, organic additives with high chlorine content such as hexachlorobenzene (HCB) are used for the improvement of illumination effects. In the course of a monitoring campaign for the detection of HCB in fireworks, atmospheric concentrations of chlorobenzenes (CBs), chlorophenols (CPs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), were measured during the Swiss National holiday August 1, 2011 which is celebrated with fireworks nationwide. Samples were collected in the city of Zurich using high-volume air samplers equipped with quartz fiber filters and poly-urethane foam plugs. With one sampling period of 3h, a peak HCB concentration of 297pgm-3 was detected. Maximum total concentrations of pentachlorophenol and PCDD/Fs were 218pg m-3 and 61fg I-TEQ m-3, respectively. These levels are in the order of ten times above background concentrations measured one week before and two weeks after the event. Atmospheric emissions of HCB and CPs were quantified using a multimedia mass balance model to interpret the field measurements resulting in total emissions of HCB and CPs during the event of 23g and 25g, respectively. Based on per capita amounts this corresponds to total annual emissions from fireworks of 1.5kg for each of the two pollutants in Switzerland. Starting from an estimation of the total worldwide emissions of HCB, in Switzerland emissions from fireworks may represent about 2-14% of total HCB releases. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


PubMed | ETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN and Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Type: | Journal: Chemosphere | Year: 2014

In fireworks, organic additives with high chlorine content such as hexachlorobenzene (HCB) are used for the improvement of illumination effects. In the course of a monitoring campaign for the detection of HCB in fireworks, atmospheric concentrations of chlorobenzenes (CBs), chlorophenols (CPs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), were measured during the Swiss National holiday August 1, 2011 which is celebrated with fireworks nationwide. Samples were collected in the city of Zurich using high-volume air samplers equipped with quartz fiber filters and poly-urethane foam plugs. With one sampling period of 3h, a peak HCB concentration of 297 pg m(-3) was detected. Maximum total concentrations of pentachlorophenol and PCDD/Fs were 218 pg m(-3) and 61 fg I-TEQ m(-3), respectively. These levels are in the order of ten times above background concentrations measured one week before and two weeks after the event. Atmospheric emissions of HCB and CPs were quantified using a multimedia mass balance model to interpret the field measurements resulting in total emissions of HCB and CPs during the event of 23 g and 25 g, respectively. Based on per capita amounts this corresponds to total annual emissions from fireworks of 1.5 kg for each of the two pollutants in Switzerland. Starting from an estimation of the total worldwide emissions of HCB, in Switzerland emissions from fireworks may represent about 2-14% of total HCB releases.


Sinreich M.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN | Pronk M.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN | Pronk M.,University of Neuchatel | Kozel R.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN
Environmental Earth Sciences | Year: 2014

The use of groundwater as a drinking water resource requires knowledge of its microbiological status and quality. In contrast to conventional microbiological monitoring of groundwater, the present study not only considers faecal indicator bacteria, but also covers a wide spectrum of microorganisms, including bacterial pathogens (verotoxin-producing E.coli, Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp., as well as Pseudomonas aeruginosa), human enteric viruses (norovirus, enterovirus, rotavirus and adenovirus) and parasitic protozoa (Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts). Samples collected at karst sites of the Swiss National Groundwater Monitoring network revealed the presence of a large diversity of microorganisms of faecal origin, the occurrence of which could be linked to specific hydrogeological settings and situations. The findings represent a ‘snapshot’ of the microbiological status at the monitoring sites and provide a national overview of the types and presence of microorganisms in Swiss karst groundwater. In addition to microbiological parameters related to faecal contamination, the overall bacterial load in groundwater was assessed using cell density measurements (i.e. total cell count), which yielded typical ranges for this ecological parameter. The study highlights differential vulnerability of karst groundwater to microbiological contamination, as well as its relationship with the microbial biocenoses, i.e. the interplay of allochthonous and autochthonous microbial components. On the basis of this data set, a microbiological classification of karst aquifers is proposed and discussed with respect to spring dynamics and vulnerability. © 2013, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Buhlmann E.,Grolimund and Partner AG Environmental Engineering | Cosandey L.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN | Ziegler T.,Grolimund and Partner AG Environmental Engineering
Proceedings - European Conference on Noise Control | Year: 2012

Recently, Switzerland has experienced a new momentum in the construction of low-noise road surfaces in order to combat traffic noise in urban areas. The present work aims at both summarising and characterising the acoustic performance of these surfaces. A large number of road surfaces (36 thin-layer asphalts and 36 SMA-like surfaces with increased void content) were subjected to acoustic property monitoring using the CPX (close proximity) method. The acoustic performance of these road surfaces was quantified and evaluated in respect to SMA surfaces, commonly used in urban areas in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe. The acoustic performance of a road surface was characterised by relative comparison of measured noise spectra. The study showed average noise reductions of 2.5 dB(A) for the assessed 8 mm and of 6.5 dB(A) for the assessed 4 mm low-noise surfaces. © European Acoustics Association.


Sinreich M.,Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN
IAHS-AISH Publication | Year: 2011

Conceptual models for reactive contaminant transport in karst groundwater must consider the reaction processes of specific contaminants in addition to the variable and complex flow regime. Due to insufficient information about the in situ relevance of attenuation processes, such concepts are in an early stage. A comparative tracing approach in conjunction with laboratory batch experiments allowed estimates to be made of attenuation in situ and on a process-scale. Examples for solute and colloid tracing experiments in the vadose and saturated zones of Swiss karst aquifers are presented and the consideration of specific mechanisms, such as biodegradation, kinetic sorption and colloid exclusion, are discussed. Such experiments may provide the basis for the development of coherent conceptual models of specific contaminant types in karst systems, while considering the effectiveness of the processes involved in different recharge and flow components. Copyright © 2011 IAHS Press.


PubMed | Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, Oregon State University and Transport and Agriculture
Type: | Journal: Chemosphere | Year: 2016

The chemical properties of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) make them widespread for use in a number of industrial and commercial products to confer water and oil-repellency characteristics and to reduce surface tension e.g. in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs). Some PFASs, especially perfluoroctane sulfonate, and several perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids, are known to cause significant human and environmental negative impact. Our knowledge on the content of PFASs in products remains scarce due to limited information available, thus impeding any precise assessment of human exposure and environmental release upon use. This study aimed at analyzing a wide variety of liquid products (n=194) likely to contain PFASs, including impregnating agents, lubricants, cleansers, polishes, AFFFs and other industrial products. By means of LC- and GC-MS/MS analytical techniques, 24 PFASs (from 41 targeted PFASs) were detected and quantified in 55% of samples. PFAS quantification and profiling was found to be consumer product specific. PFASs were mostly detected in AFFF (90%) and impregnating agents (60%) with mainly ionic and neutral species, respectively. In particular, the fluorotelomer alcohols 6:2, 8:2 and 10:2 FTOHs were detected in 40-50% of impregnating agents. Further investigation by Fast Atom Bombardment Mass Spectrometry (FAB-MS) on a set of AFFF samples allowed the characterization of 8 different PFAS classes as major components in these formulations. Results demonstrated that numerous and diversified PFAS are currently used in specific commercial products, implying significant human exposure and environmental release that necessitate further research concerning their toxicological impact.

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