Time-Integrative Passive sampling combined with TOxicity Profiling (TIPTOP): an effect-based strategy for cost-effective chemical water quality assessment

Timo Hamers*, Jessica Legradi, Nick Zwart, Foppe Smedes, Jasperien de Weert, Evert Jan van den Brandhof, Dik van de Meent, Dick de Zwart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study aimed at demonstrating that effect-based monitoring with passive sampling followed by toxicity profiling is more protective and cost-effective than the current chemical water quality assessment strategy consisting of compound-by-compound chemical analysis of selected substances in grab samples. Passive samplers were deployed in the Dutch river delta and in WWTP effluents. Their extracts were tested in a battery of bioassays and chemically analyzed to obtain toxicity and chemical profiles, respectively. Chemical concentrations in water were retrieved from publicly available databases. Seven different strategies were used to interpret the chemical and toxicity profiles in terms of ecological risk. They all indicated that the river sampling locations were relatively clean. Chemical-based monitoring resulted for many substances in measurements below detection limit and could only explain <20% of the observed in vitro toxicity. Effect-based monitoring yielded more informative conclusions as it allowed for ranking the sampling sites and for estimating a margin-of-exposure towards chronic effect ranges. Effect-based monitoring was also cheaper and more cost-effective (i.e. yielding more information per euro spent). Based on its identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), a future strategy for effect-based monitoring has been proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-59
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Pharmacology
Early online date20 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • in vitro bioassay
  • in vivo bioassay
  • multiple substance potentially affected fraction of species (msPAF)
  • priority compounds
  • River Meuse
  • River Rhine
  • silicone rubber
  • species-sensitivity distribution (SSD)
  • Speedisk
  • toxic pressure
  • wastewater treatment plant (WWTP)


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