Monitoring endocrine disruptors in surface waters of central Spain using chronic toxicity ostracod tests – a search for an innovative region-specific risk assessment (END-OSTRACOTOX)

bisphenolOne of the principal examples of contaminants of emerging concern which are being discovered in surface- and ground-waters throughout Europe are endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). EDCs are organic substances that may interfere with the endocrine system and are found in a wide range of products used in everyday life. Recently, there has been growing interest among the scientific community in testing and learning the potential risk ECDs may pose to both, human health and freshwater ecosystems, and even if the dangers are not yet fully understood, a direct association between exposure of EDCs and changes in the reproduction, development and growth of several organisms has been already demonstrated. Bisphenol A (BPA), a commercially important compound used in the production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, is the most highly produced synthetic chemical in the world (> 3 million tons annually) with endocrine disruptive effects. The project aims are to establish a standardized protocols and to perform laboratory long-term (≥ 2-generation study) BPA and selected pharmaceutical compounds toxicity tests to model benthic microcrustacean ostracod species via exposure of sediment containing BPA and PC at concentrations reported for central Spain river basins. The project is lead by Tadeus Namiotko.

Madrid Advanced Wastewater Treatment Network (REMTAVARES)


There is a great concern by the presence of pollutants in wastewaters that can have a remarkable impact on the environment, particularly on aquatic ecosystems that receive them. Many of them belong to the class of socalled emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Their removal in conventional treatment processes of WWTP is ineffective. Despite the increasingly strict legislation, industrial activity causes the discharge to the environment of many nonbiodegradable substances which are also hardly removed by conventional biological processes. According to available data, most of Spain has a high risk of water stress. The main causes are urban expansion and agricultural intensification which have increased the pressure on water resources in recent decades. The effects of climate change such as persistent droughts increase the risk of shortages. Along with saving and improved water management, reuse of treated water is probably the most clearly sustainable way to tackle this problem. National authorities have promoted various policy actions to enhance the reuse of reclaimed water. However, various reuse scenarios clash with the potential impact of contaminants not removed, sometimes in very low concentrations, but whose longterm effects on health and on the balance of ecosystems are unknown. 

The REMTAVARES network (advanced wastewater treatment regional network), which started in 2005 under the program of R & D between research groups from the Community of Madrid, integrates four research groups belong to four public Universities from Madrid, an associated laboratory from REDLAB Madrid network and IMDEA Water Institute. All of them have proven an extensive research experience in the treatment and reuse of different types of wastewater. The main objective of the proposed scientific program for this call is intended to contribute to solving the problem of the treatment and management of reusable wastewater. To achieve this goal several points wwil be applied and considered: i) the scientific knowledge of the applicants for innovative treatment technologies, ii) the impacts of treated effluents on receiving ecosystems, iii) the sustainability of the proposed technologies and iv) their economic feasibility. The aim is to evaluate technologies based on the characteristics of reusable water and later use in order to significantly increase the volume of water available to be reused. As a particular objective, the research will be focused on the treatment of hospital wastewaters. The high concentration of drugs, their complexity and the presence of dangerous pathogens makes them a particularly difficult effluent to manage, which is currently discharged to the integrated sewerage water network. The development of specialized treatments can solve the problem in the origin taking advantage of a decentralized management. The project is the reference point in terms of advanced technologies in wastewater management to ensure sustainable development for the Community of Madrid.

Within the project we aim to test the ecotoxicological effects of pharmaceutical compounds on surface and groundwater crustaceans and to examine the sensitivity of copepods crustaceans and their use as sentinel species for assessing the health of surface and groundwater ecosystems. (See more at:

Partner institutions: 

  • Chemical and Environmental Engieneering Group (URJC). Principal investigator Dr. Fernando Martínez Castillejo
  • Chemical Engineering Group, University of Alcalá (UAH). Principal investigator: Dr. Roberto Rosal García
  • Chemical Engineering Group, Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM). Principal investigator: Dr. José Antonio Casas de Pedro
  • Chemical Engineering Group of Catalysis and Separation Operations Complutense University (UCM). Principal investigator: Dr. Juan García Rodríguez
  • Groundwater Ecology Group (IMDEA). Principal investigator:  Dra. Sanda Iepure.


Namiotko, T., A. Vasquez Gonzales, A. Castaño, S. Iepure, 2017. Testing toxicity of endocrine disrupters on development and reproduction of freshwater Ostracoda, 18th International Symposium on Ostracoda, 27 – 31 August, Santa Barbara, California, USA.

Wysocka, A., A. Kilikowska, N. Mori, S. Iepure, T. Namiotko, 2017. Getting stuck in a sticky ground: molecular insights into the taxonomy of Candoninae (Ostracoda), 18th International Symposium on Ostracoda, 27 – 31 August, Santa Barbara, California, USA.

Iepure S., Castaño A., T. Di Lorenzo, P. García-Doncel P., C. Alonso-Alonso, A. Petre, 2016. Human Pharmaceutical Compounds in Aquatic Ecosystems – the significance of ecotoxicological approach. 21st Century Watershed Technology Conference and Workshop Improving quality of water resources at local, basin, and regional scales , 3-9 December, Quito, Ecuador.

Castaño A., T. Di Lorenzo, S.Iepure, A. Petre, 2016. Testing the acute toxicity of human pharmaceutical compounds on groundwater (Diacyclops crassicaudis crassicaudis Sars, 1863) and  surface crustacean species (Daphnia magna Muller, 1785), Conference: XVIII Congress of the Iberian Associacion of Limnology, Tortosa, Spain, 4-8 July, 2016.

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