We provide scientific and technological innovation to protect and sustain management of our urban and industrial environments.

The challenge

Managing contaminant impacts of development

Water sampling at Cockburn Sound  ©Robert Garvey

Urban, agricultural, manufacturing, resource extraction and industrial activities lead to chemical releases that can contaminate soil, sediment, aquatic environments and water resources. These impair soil function and water quality, and threaten ecosystem function, aquatic environments and human health.

The behaviour and persistence of contaminants is highly variable, making it hard to predict exposures and effects. Where risks are unacceptable, innovative management options are required to remediate and restore impacted landscapes and aquatic environments.

Development of Australian industry and urban centres will continue to grow into the future. Our challenge is to find ways to more rapidly assess the environmental impacts of this development, and to develop technologies to minimise these impacts while allowing our industries to remain globally competitive and our urban centres to remain healthy.

Our response

Innovating to reduce risks

We are working with government agencies and industry to develop new knowledge and technologies to more rapidly understand and mitigate contaminant effects on susceptible ecosystems and contaminants that pose a risk to human health.

For example, our work with the oil and gas industry and its regulatory agencies seeks to understand the persistence and long term risks posed by petroleum fuels and industrial solvents (such as trichloroethene - TCE) and the fate of fracking and geogenic chemicals during unconventional gas extraction.

We are also working with the metals and mining industry to undertake risk assessments and analytical and specialised testing to assess the availability and uptake of metals and other chemicals into biota in aquatic environments, and into agricultural products.

And our work with water agencies and regulators aims to quantify the persistence and effects on ecology of an ever increasing number of personal use and pharmaceutical chemicals.

Our research outputs have been adopted by the global research community, as well as providing solutions for industry. These include:

  • Better measurement and monitoring techniques – analytical procedures to detect trace levels of contaminants, ecotoxicological techniques to determine toxicological effects and on line sensors to measure contaminant changes over time
  • Risk assessment quantification and processes
  • Models to predict behaviour, assess risks and design remediation options
  • Innovative remediation and management options and technologies
  • Input to National and international guidance to protect human health and the environment.

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We partner with small and large companies, government and industry in Australia and around the world.

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