Laboratory for Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA Lab)

Laboratory for Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA Lab)

The risk assessment facilities form the pulsating heart of the Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) Laboratory, where the Wageningen Environmental Research research team gauges the effects of stressors on the environment by expertly combining measurement, analyses, and experimentation.

These assessments can, for instance, relate to the way in which a chemical substance behaves in surface or groundwater, or the effect of substances or other stressors, such as invasive exotics, on water communities. The facilities are located at two sites: a chemistry and ecotoxicology lab on the Wageningen University & Research campus, and an experimental field station at Sinderhoeve.

Sphere of activity

The ERA lab consists of a chemistry and an ecotoxicology component. The chemistry lab is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for conducting a wide range of chemical measurements. The analyses consist mainly of chromatographic determinations with the aid of GC‑ECD/FID, GC-MS/MS, LC-MS/MS, GPC (gel-permeation chromatography) and HPLC-UV. Pesticides, medication, and other organic substances from various matrices such as water, sediment, soil, and vegetable and/or animal material are extracted beforehand with liquid-liquid extraction, accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) or solid-phase extraction (SPE) with Soxtherm or Unexas.

The ERA lab was set up initially for experimental purposes, such as research on ecotoxicology in the ditches at the field station or studies on the behaviour of pesticides, PAHs, and PCBs in the soil. The sphere of activity has since been expanded to include other substance groups and terrestrial systems.

Sinderhoeve is also used for microcosmic and mesocosmic experiments in which entire communities or specific species (vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants) are studied in ponds, ditches, and test fields. The laboratories are also used to determine sampled organisms, with stereo-microscopes if necessary.