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

How the Interreg North Sea Region Programme is tackling climate change and supporting the long-term sustainable management in the environment


17-11-02 Sustainable NSR Web ImageOur funder, the Interreg North Sea Region Programme (@NorthSeaRegion), has published a great interview with the project advisors working on their ‘Sustainable North Sea’ priority, Axel Kristiansen and Jenny Thomsen. The Sullied Sediments team is very proud to be co-funded under this priority as we working towards making an important contribution to the long-term sustainable management of the North Sea Region. Read about our project and other great work funded under this priority in this wide-ranging interview with Axel and Jenny:

Sullied Sediments Project Lead nominated for award for contribution to the environment

18-05-14 Chairmans Awards Dinner (cropped)

Earlier this month, the Sullied Sediments project lead, Professor Jeanette Rotchell, was recognised at the 2018 Chairman’s Awards, organised by East Riding of Yorkshire Council, UK. At a presentation ceremony on 8 May 2018, Jeanette was named as one of three nominees for the Environment Award. In particular, she was commended for her leadership of the Sullied Sediments project and her role as Chair of the East and North Yorkshire Waterways Partnership. Jeanette’s nomination at this prominent regional event has helped to shine a light on the aims and ambitions of the Sullied Sediments project partnership.

Jeanette is a Professor of Aquatic Toxicology at the University of Hull and her research is in the area of environmental toxicology, specifically genotoxicology and endocrine disruption. In addition to Sullied Sediments, other current projects are focused on cancer in fish, endocrine disruption and photoperiod in bivalves and micro-plastics in seafood supply chain and pharmaceuticals in the Humber Estuary.

Jeanette’s recent research accomplishments include securing funding for this project, Sullied Sediments. She has also supervised many PhD students and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Hawai’i and the State Key Lab for Coastal and Estuarine Research in Shanghai, China. Her work is highly applied and impactful at a European level, and she has a strong track record in interdisciplinary working with colleagues from chemistry and biomedical as all as being stakeholder and end-user driven.

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