The Deep after Dark (part of British Science Festival)

A Blog Post by Samantha Richardson and Aimilia Meichanetzoglou, PhD students at the University of Hull (UK)

On Wednesday, 12 September 2018, we took part in the British Science festival event, ‘The Deep after Dark’. It was a great event showcasing some of the work we have done as part of the Sullied Sediments project to better understand and reduce our release of watch list chemicals in the water environment. We talked in-depth to over 120 people, explaining how we will use paper devices to look for pollution in river water and how we use a plant extract (sporopollenin) to remove some of these chemicals from the water.

Lots of people were particularly interested in how we will use sporopollenin (a bio-polymer found in plant pollen) to capture and remove watch list chemicals from river water. We explained the ways we extract this polymer, clarifying that the material is non-allergenic, and we showed microscope photos to give visitors an idea of how small the particles are. We demonstrated how the particles are suspended in water and the procedure of filtration to remove them and leave purified water behind. The audience were fascinated in the iron loaded particles since they were allowed to play with them using a magnet and see how easier their removal from water can be. To conclude the demonstration, we analysed the purified water with audience members using the paper devices and confirmed that the water was clean.

For more about the British Science Festival in Hull, please visit their blog:

Site Visit in Leeds to Develop Sullied Sediments Volunteer Water Sampling Activity

Sullied Sediments partners from the Canal and River Trust, University of Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Council start to develop the volunteer water sampling activity

On Tuesday, 4 September 2018, partners from the Canal and River Trust, University of Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Council meet in at Knostrop Lock in Leeds, UK, to start to develop the volunteer water sampling activity for the Sullied Sediments project.

PhD student Samantha Richardson (pictured in the middle) presented the dipsticks that she has been developing in her lab at the University of Hull. These dipsticks will enable volunteers to detect certain chemicals found in household products in samples collected from their local waterways. This was the first time that the dipsticks were used in the field and they worked really well!

Now that Lizzie Dealey (left) and Becca Dent (right) from the Canal and River Trust have seen the dipsticks in action, they can create an engagement activity in which volunteers will learn about how their use of certain products might be having an adverse impact on the environment and help us to collect and map data about the presence of Watch List chemicals in our rivers and canals.

This was a great start to the development of this key activity, which is part of Work Package 5: Changing Citizens’ Behaviour.

Sullied Sediments at the British Science Festival

18-07-17 British Science Festival Logo

Sullied Sediments PhD students at the University of Hull will be giving demonstrations at this year’s British Science Festival. On Wednesday, 12 September 2018, the students will be at the Deep in Hull to showcase their research and innovations for the project. Their demonstrations will relate to the catchment sampling campaign, the clean-up of waste water using adsorbent plant-derived material and the detection of compounds in water using a simple paper-based device. If you are in the area, drop by the Deep between 18:00 and 22:00.

Sullied Sediments ‘dipstick’ presented at pathogen workshop

University of Hull PhD student, Samantha Richardson, has presented her work on the development of a dipstick that can detect the presence of certain compounds in water samples at a symposium focused on pathogen point-of-care analysis. This event took place at the University of Hull in June. Samantha’s presentation explored how paper-based devices can be deployed for environmental analysis. If you would like to know more, please contact us.

18-06-27 Pathogen Point of Care Conference (S Richardson)

newsletter dip test

Sullied Sediments creates innovative ‘dipstick’

We have designed a ‘dipstick’ that can easily detect phosphate in water and we are now adapting it to detect the watch list chemical, triclosan.

10 ppm
The Sullied Sediments team has busy in the lab and we now have a ‘dipstick’ that can detect phosphate in the water environment. The dipstick is actually a paper analytic device, or PAD, which has been developed to record the presence of phosphate in water samples using a colorimetric reaction. Having been tried and tested in the lab, later this year we will be working with our colleagues from the NuReDrain project to deploy the PADs in the field and test their efficacy in an agricultural setting.

With the proof of principle now established, our Sullied Sediments team is looking at how the PAD can be engineered to detect triclosan – an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in some consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents and toys. Triclosan is a watch list chemical which means that it is being monitored as a substance that could have an adverse impact to the aquatic environment.

We are developing the PAD as part of our work package called ‘Changing Citizens’ Behaviour’. While other aspects of the Sullied Sediments project are exploring ways of better assessing and treating contamination from the watch list chemicals in our waterways, this work package is focused on better prevention. We will be mounting a public awareness raising campaign in hopes of making citizens aware that they may be inadvertently releasing unwanted substances into the water environment through their use of certain products and that a few simple changes in their consumer habits can make a big difference.

In addition, we are creating a programme of volunteer sampling workshops, which will be rolled out in the three river catchments where the Sullied Sediments project is active. In the workshops, volunteers will be trained to collect samples from their local waterways; test them using the PADs for the presence of triclosan; and interpret and register the results. At the same time, workshop leaders will be encouraging these volunteers to become water champions in their local communities.

The volunteer sampling progress will be piloted in the UK’s Humber catchment this autumn. We will report on how the pilot goes later this year.

Sediment research from HAW Hamburg presented at SETAC 2018


Sonja Faetsch, a PhD researcher in the Department of Applied Aquatic Toxicology at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg), attended SETAC 2018 in Rome to present research she has been doing as part of the Sullied Sediments project. Sonja is working under the supervision of Professor Susanne Heise, who is leading on the ‘Sediment Assessment’ work package. This work package is collecting a wide range of data on sediment samples from the Humber, Elbe and Scheldt river catchments in the North Sea Region. The sampling sites all face individual but severe management problems related to polluted sediments. Sonja’s SETAC poster presentation focused on the various criticisms of the implementation of ecotoxicological data in sediment quality assessments in environmental decision making. Sonja’s poster can be viewed below:

Sonja Faetsch’s SETAC 2018 Poster

Sullied Sediments research from the University of Antwerp presented at SETAC 2018

SETAC, or the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, is an international, not-for-profit professional society that was established in 1979 to provide a forum for individuals and institutions engaged in education, research and development, ecological risk assessment and life-cycle assessment, chemical manufacture and distribution, management and regulation of natural resources, and the study, analysis, and solution of environmental problems. Hanne Hetjens, a PhD student at the University of Antwerp, recently presented research that she has been carrying out on behalf of the Sullied Sediments project at SETAC’s 28th annual meeting held in Rome this May.

Hanne’s poster presentation was focused on assessing the bioavailability of metals in natural sediments using passive sampling and bioaccumulation. Hanne’s poster can be viewed here:

Hanne Hetjens’ SETAC 2018 Poster

Hanne is a member of the University of Antwerp’s research group, ‘Systemic Physiological and Ecotoxicological Research’, or SPHERE. More information about SPHERE’s research mission can be found on their website:

18-06-12 Hanne Hetjens at SETAC 2018