Researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) have developed a tool that can easily estimate the harmful effect of pesticides on living organisms in rivers and on water quality. This can be done in minutes.
Pesticides cause characteristic changes to the composition of the life community that is affected. What is required is to find out which living creatures, e.g. insects and crabs, are found at a certain point along the river and in what numbers. The scientists have now set up a Web application where this data can be entered and evaluated to show immediately the level of pollution.
Regional data is currently available for Germany, France, Finland and Western Siberia, but the system has also been tested in the UK and in Australia. There is no charge for using the service. The advantage of the new tool is that in many cases, complex, expensive chemical analyses will no longer be necessary.
Beketov M.A., Foit K., Schäfer R.B., Schriever C.A., Sacchi A., Capri E., Biggs J., Wells C., Liess, M. SPEAR indicates pesticide effects in streams - comparative use of species- and family-level biomonitoring data. Environmental Pollution, 157(6), June 2009