Tropical aquatic ecotoxicology
The SSD Ecotoxicology Laboratory
(Photo: A. Harford)
The SSD Ecotoxicology program investigates the risks and impacts of contaminants to the highly-valued freshwater ecosystems in the wet-dry monsoonal tropics of northern Australia. The Ecotoxicology Laboratory, located at the SSD laboratory complex in Darwin, is a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility designed for the conduct of high quality ecotoxicological assessments.
Ecotoxicological tests are usually carried out in the laboratory, and measure the response of individuals of a species to a single chemical or complex mixture (eg a mine waste water). The results are used to predict levels of contaminants that will cause (i) minimal harm to the aquatic environment, or (ii) the actual harm being caused by contaminants already in the environment. Ecotoxicological data are often compared with environmental exposure data in order to predict ecological risk.
Toxicity test procedures that follow fully developed and documented protocols are carried out using a range of aquatic species representative of many freshwater ecosystems across the wet-dry tropics of Australia and south-east Asia. The organisms are cultured and reared in aquaculture facilities or in the laboratory.
Ecotoxicological research at SSD is focused on risk assessment of chemical threats such as mine waters and their associated heavy metals (eg uranium, copper, cadmium, aluminium), and pesticides used for agriculture and the control of wetland weeds.
(Photo: C. Camilleri)
Ecotoxicology commercial services
The following services are offered commercially by the Ecotoxicology Program:
- derivation of site specific water quality limits in compliance with the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality
- whole of effluent ecotoxicological testing
- determination of acute and chronic toxicity of chemicals and complex effluents to local freshwater organisms
- Supply of tropical toxicity test organisms and training in associated testing procedures
For information on these Ecotoxicology commercial services please contact:
Dr Rick van Dam
Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss)
phone: +61 (08) 8920 1175
fax: +61 (08) 8920 1185
post: eriss, GPO Box 461 Darwin NT 0801 Australia
The SSD Tropical Ecotoxicology Laboratory brochure describes the SSD Tropical Ecotoxicology facility and its associated research and commercial capabilities, including specific toxicity tests and examples of current projects.
Contact officer Dr Rick van Dam
Supervising Scientist Division
Published November 2003, updated April 2006
Commercial services offered by SSD
For more information on commercial services offered by Supervising Scientist, please see Commercial services.