Assessment of sediment quality in the Modular Stepwise Procedure

Assessment of sediment quality in the Modular Stepwise Procedure

Sediments can adsorb persistent pollutants such as heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), thereby acting as a long-term source of pollution for surface waters. The compounds can be taken up by aquatic organisms and can accumulate through the food chain. In Switzerland, so far no harmonised method exists for the assessment of sediment quality. Therefore, the Ecotox Centre together with the Federal Office for the Environment has started to work on a new sediment module within the Modular Stepwise Procedure. The aim is to develop the missing methods in order to help the cantonal water protection agencies in assessing the sediment quality and thus ensuring the water quality.

In the first project phase, the Ecotox Centre is developing a harmonized protocol for sediment sampling and pre-treatment. Then it will derive sediment quality criteria for a list of prioritized substances and propose a system for assessing sediment quality that is compatible with the classification of the Modular Stepwise Procedure. As a basis for the prioritization of substances, their presence in Swiss waters and their potential for toxic effects on organisms are used. 


Info Sheet: A module “Sediment” within the framework of the MSK

Publication: Casado-Martinez, M.C., Wildi, M., Ferrari, B.J.D., Werner, I. (2018) Prioritization of substances for national ambient monitoring of sediment in Switzerland. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 25, 3127-3138
DownloadDownload at Springer

Report: Current methodologies used by cantonal agencies for sampling and analysis of sediments in Switzerland

Expert report: Strategy for sediment quality assessment in Switzerland


Dr. Carmen Casado-Martinez
Dr. Carmen Casado-Martinez Send mail Tel. +41 58 765 5747


30. May 2017

Priorisation of pollutants for sediment monitoring in Switzerland

The Ecotox Centre has prioritised organic pollutants for sediment monitoring. The resulting list provides a basis for the sediment module of the Modular Stepwise Procedure.

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24. November 2020

Strategy for assessing sediment quality in Switzerland

After 6 years, the assessment concept for sediment quality in Switzerland is in the home straight. In addition to a harmonised method for sampling and sample preparation, a list of substances for regular sediment monitoring has been developed, as well as sediment quality criteria and an evaluation system.

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