The National Centre for Environmental Toxicology (NCET) is a specialised team within WRc that provides independent expert advice on the risks posed to human health and the environment from chemicals and micro-organisms.
NCET’s key capabilities are divided into four inter-related areas:
Human health risk assessment;
Environmental risk assessment and ecotoxicology;
Microbial risk assessment and management;
Fate and behaviour of chemicals in the environment.
So far in 2010, NCET has had an extremely busy year. It continues its core activity of providing a 24-hour 365-day per year, toxicity advisory service to the UK water utilities, the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). In 2010, this included assisting with high profile incidents such as dealing with volcanic ash, industrial pollution in a London river and various chemical fires. Besides the enquiry service, the NCET work includes preparation and revision of a database of over 650 datasheets on chemicals and micro-organisms and update reports on scientific research and regulation for the water and waste industry.
As a further focus this year, mammalian toxicology, ecotoxicology and fate and behaviour expertise (including the use of (Quantitative) Structure Activity Relationship (Q)SAR) models, has been utilised to the full to help chemical companies prepare dossiers for the European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation. (The first deadline approaches on the 1st December 2010 for high production volume and higher concern chemicals).
NCET has continued to work for its more ‘traditional’ clients, often in collaboration with key academic departments. This year, research projects for Defra and the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) include monitoring haloacetic acids at drinking water treatment plants and investigation of evidence for skin irritation and tap water use in collaboration with top dermatologists at the Universities of Sheffield and Nottingham. The University of East Anglia and NCET are collaborating on a project to assess the risks from vero-toxigenic E. coli O157 through public and private water supplies in the UK. On behalf of DWI, WRc is leading a consortium of four test laboratories to investigate approaches to improving the performance of the current UK British Standard BS 6920 for testing the ability of non-metallics to enhance microbial growth.
NCET has also recently completed two microbiological studies for industrial clients to evaluate the efficacy of commercial disinfectants, and to recommend effective treatment for managing biofilms and Legionella in clean water environments.
As well as work for the REACH regulations, NCET continues its involvement in assessing chemicals in the environment. Recent projects for agencies such as the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) include assessment of risks to surface water of substances leaching from contaminated land and a study for the Environment Agency investigating the feasibility of monitoring biota and setting standards under the Water Framework Directive.
For the past 6 years, NCET has continued to provide technical, environmental and toxicological advice to the European Commission for its work on the United Nations Rotterdam Convention on the import and export of dangerous chemicals (commonly known as the PIC procedure).
Lastly, during 2010, NCET has been active in publishing and presenting data at meetings such as the European Water and Wastewater Management conference in Leeds and the Water Contamination Emergency Conference 4 in Mulheim, Germany. WRc’s Senior Microbiologist, Robert Pitchers, is also on the organising committee for an international conference in Edinburgh (2011) on Faecal Indicators: Problem or Solution? supported by the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), Institute of Water and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).
For further information contact Paul Rumsby at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 (0) 1793 865153