Newsflash! The first edition of our newsletter has been published

We are delighted to announce that the first edition of the Sullied Sediments newsletter has been published. You can view it using the link below:

Sullied Sediments Newsletter Issue 1 (May 2018)

We hope you find this an interesting read. This is the first of six newsletters that we will be producing over the life of the project. Our next issue will be published in October 2018 following the Sullied Sediments second annual meeting, which will be held in Hamburg, Germany, this year.

We would like to share our project news with as many people as possible. Please could we encourage you to pass the link to our newsletter onto any colleagues who may be interested.

If you or any of your contacts would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please email Annabel Hanson, the Sullied Sediments project coordinator, using the following email:


In addition to our newsletter, the Sullied Sediments partnership is active on Twitter @SulliedSediment. Please follow us us on either or both of these platforms to stay informed and keep in touch.


Four simple ways you can reduce pollution in your local river

18-05-14 The Conservation Article Screen Capture

Samantha Richardson, one of our PhD students, has published an article outlining four ways we can all help to reduce pollution in our waterways in The Conversation.

Samantha works on our ‘Changing Citizens’ Behaviour’ work package and is currently developing a tool that we will use with volunteers to check for the presence of certain Watch List chemicals in selected waterways. As part of this work package, we are also running a communications campaign to raise awareness about about how our consumer choices could be having an impact on the health of our rivers and canals. This article is the first major element of this campaign.

Please help us to broadcast the important messages in Samantha’s piece by sharing it on your social media platforms.

Another aspect of Hanne’s work

In addition to performing bioassays at the University of Antwerp, I will work with new and state of the art devices called passive samplers to measure the amount of bioavailable contaminant fractions (I will mainly focus on metals) in the sediment. Passive sampling devices are a promising new tool for future sediment evaluation processes as they have the potential to increase our understanding of contaminant bioavailability over time (which provides several advantages over established monitoring techniques such as grab- or spot sampling) and are less destructive on animal and plant tissue than conventional methods. In June 2018 a big field and laboratory study is planned in which the suitability of these devices for future sediment risk assessment will be further evaluated. Over a period of 28 days and at six locations with different contamination backgrounds, benthic invertebrates will be deployed in the field (water and sediment) and the bioaccumulation within the tissue of the organisms will be compared to metal concentrations measured by diffusive gradient in thin film (DGT) passive samplers. The same will be done in the laboratory.

In October 2017 a pilot study at one sampling site has been performed with the aim to verify our choice of test organisms as well as to routinize the general procedures. At the moment we are still waiting for some results, but we can already say that the pilot study served its purpose and we are really looking forward to performing the big experiment.

The photo below captures the processing of the sediment probes 24 hours after deployment.

18-05-09 H Hetjens Lab Tests

Introducing Hanne Hetjens from the University of Antwerp

Hallo, my name is Hanne Hetjens and I am a PhD student at the University of Antwerp, working on Work Package 3. In my work I am focus on the evaluation of the toxicity of contaminated natural sediments on related organisms such as benthic macroinvertebrates and rooted plants.

More specifically we are working with the worm Lumbriculus variegatus, the amphipod Gammarus spp. and the plant Myriophyllum spicatum. These organisms live in or on the sediment and are therefore in close contact with the sediment and highly dependent on its quality. As plants, herbivores and detritivores form the basis of each food web, toxicological effects such as altered feeding rates, grow rates, reproduction or survival found here, can propagate through the whole food web (cascade effect) and have widespread effects on the biological status and health of related species communities, the surrounding ecosystem and eventually also for us. Contaminants that are less strongly bound to the sediment can accumulate in the tissue of organisms and accumulate in predators feeding on those organisms. Through this, contaminants that are stored in the sediment can end up in high concentrations in top predators such as fish, birds and mammals, even though they are not in direct contact with the sediments. Studying the effects and the bioaccumulation of sediment-bound contaminants on the chosen organisms can therefore give important information about the ecotoxicological risk and remediation necessity of natural sediments.

Together with other project partners, different bioassays will be performed and a test battery developed, with the aim of facilitating and improving sediment evaluation processes. I am interested in the results that we will get within the next two years and I am glad that my work can help to improve sediment evaluation and management in the near future. As sediments are located at the receiving end of all processes going on within an aquatic ecosystem, they surely deserve more attention in aquatic ecosystem management than they got so far.

18-04-24 Hanne Hetjens Portrait

January 2018 Project Update

We are currently working with partners to complete our first project report. A review of our first six months (January-June 2017) has shown that we have been busy setting up the project and starting work on our three core areas of activity: better assessment, better treatment and better prevention.

Period 2 (July-December 2017) has been equally busy for the whole team. In September 2017, we hosted our first annual meeting in Hull, UK, where 40 delegates attended over the two days. The project management team led discussions on finance and reporting and the work package leads gave full updates on their activities to date. It was two days of healthy discussion and debate!

Immediately following the annual meeting, one of our advisory partners, the East and North Yorkshire Waterways Partnership, held a conference entitled ‘Catchment-Level Partnership Working at its Best’. This event was organised as the first dissemination event for the Sullied Sediments project. Members of both partnerships were brought together to exchange knowledge and ideas transnationally, share best catchment management practice and broaden their networks. It was a great way to showcase our project at a regional level.

Other notable activity includes a special meeting of our ‘Work Package 3 – Sediment Assessment colleagues, which is being held in Mechelen, Belgium, this month. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss how the first sediment sampling campaign, which was carried out in October 2017, went. Colleagues are also making plans for the second sampling round and reviewing initial findings.

Proposed River Basin Sites 25 June 2015

The Humber, Elbe and Scheldt River Catchments

Additionally, colleagues working on Work Package 5 – Citizens Behaviour are running a communications planning workshop in Manchester, UK, this month. This meeting is an opportunity for project beneficiaries and advisory partners to discuss the challenges we face with project communications in general and in particular with Work Package 5. Using the Theory of Change model, we will work through the issues and identify ways to address them effectively.

Although we have been in a period of reflection, we are also looking forward and starting to plan for our second annual meeting, which will be held in Germany in 2018. We are expecting to have lots to progress on our project objectives and outputs to report. Details of this meeting will be announced in due course.

Call for abstracts for SETAC Europe 2018


Two of our Sullied Sediments partners, Susanne Heise from the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and Sebastian Höss from Ecossa, are chairing a session on ecotoxicological sediment and soil assessment with two additional chairs at the SETAC EU meeting in Rome next May. From today, they are inviting abstracts for their session. The deadline for submission is 29 November. For more information, please click on the link below:

Samantha Richardson: Introduction

17-06-28 Samantha Richardson in the LabHello, I am Samantha and I am working to develop a dipstick devise to test from everyday waterway pollutants. This device will be used by members of the public with guidance from scientists to help collect information regarding the pollution level across a wide area.



Test for phosphates carried out in solution using test tubes

Test for phosphates carried out in solution using test tubes

I am working to develop a quick and easy to use dip test that can be used to determine what pollutants are present in a river. These devices will test for a series of pollutants, many of which can be found on the EU’s ‘Watch list’. Using a simple colour change to identify when a chemical is present, these devices will help us gain a wider understanding of the water quality across our rivers.

Whilst out with volunteers using this technology I will also be working on a plan to help engage with people to allow them to take ownership of their waterways. The aim of this work is to help reduce the levels of pollution that enter our waterways through education and engagement of the population.

Phosphate test carried out on a paper dip test device

Phosphate test carried out on a paper dip test device


Introducing Hull’s Sullied Sediments PhD Students

At the University of Hull (UK), we have three PhD students – Wayne, Aimilia and Samantha – who are working on the Sullied Sediments project. Each of the students works within a team of people; these teams are known as work packages (WP) 3, 4 and 5. These work packages each focus on different aspects of the project.

WP3 focuses on what is in the sediment in our waterways and WP4 is looking at a way of removing Watch List pollutants from the water as it enters selected waste water treatment plants.

WP5 aims to engage with and inform the public to help them to reduce the levels of some of the pollutants entering our waterways.

The next few blogs will focus on the work Wayne, Aimilia and Samantha are doing in more detail…in their own words.

Introducing Sonja, our PhD student at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences

18-04-19 Sonja Faetsch Portrait

My name is Sonja Faetsch and I am a PhD student working on Work Package 3 – Sediment Assessment – for the Sullied Sediments Project. I am working at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in the research group called Applied Aquatic Toxicology. I am testing the ecotoxicity of sediment samples from nine sampling sites at the three river catchment areas covered by the project (Elbe, Scheldt and Humber). These tests will evaluate the biological effect of the samples. The applied biotest battery comprises the luminescent bacteria test, the algae growth inhibition test, the Daphnia sp. acute immobilization test, a microbial community dynamics test and a sediment contact test with bacteria.


PhD Students take part in FameLab in Hull

FameLab Talking Science

FameLab is an international science competition aimed at developing and rewarding science communication and engagement. On 28 February 2018, the winner and runners-up of the Yorkshire Heat (UK) participated in the Regional Final at the University of Hull. The rules behind each FameLab are:

  • 3 minutes to present any scientific, engineering, mathematical or medical topic of the contestant’s choice;
  • No electronic presentation or audio recording can be used; and
  • Props are encouraged but only if portable.

Two of our Sullied Sediments PhD students, Aimilia Meichanetzoglou and Samantha Richardson, competed with talks relating to their work on our project. Aimilia spoke about the ways we can avoid introducing unwanted substances into our waterways through a better choice of personal and household products. Samantha talked about the ‘dipstick’ she has developed which can detect phosphate in the water environment and reflect its concentration using a colour change result.

To watch their presentations and the responses of the judges, please click on the links below. Please note that the video quality is not great in places so you will have to adjust your volume and screen orientation accordingly:

Samantha’s talk

Samantha’s questions from the judges’ panel

Aimilia’s talk

Aimilia’s questions from the judges’ panel

To find out more about FameLab, please visit The Cheltenham Science Festival website.