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Qualitative hydrology

Industrialization, intensive land use, and growing consumption have led to strong environmental pollution by substances that are insoluble in water, hardly degradable, and often toxic. Most of these substances enter water bodies, are transported in adsorbtion on suspended matter, and are deposited in sediments. Maintenance dredging to keep waterways navigable, but also natural processes such as riverbed erosion lead to releases of substances from the sediment layers of watercourses. So, it is imperative to have knowledge about their qualitative, chemical composition, their concentrations, and the effects they may cause, in order to assess the impacts of waterway development and maintenance projects.

By integrating the disciplines of chemistry, biochemistry, eco-toxicology, and radiology, the BfG's division of Qualitative Hydrology has comprehensive knowledge of the chemical and radiological contamination and of the ecotoxicological potential in navigable inland and coastal waters, in particular in suspended matter and sediments. Data from a comprehensive measuring network deliver the inputs needed to develop and apply impact scenarios and forecasts.

Illustration of the qualitative hydrology in the BfGQualitative Hydrology in the BfG

Risk analyses and risk assessments are a fundamental part of the BfG's work. As the discussion about environmental risks and health hazards always attracts tremendous public attention, it believes that adequate communication and explanation of the actual dangers posed by toxic substances are equally important tasks.

With its work the BfG forms a more realistic view of water-related activities and improves their public acceptance.

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