Research for the Environment

Department of Ecological Chemistry

Department Ecological Chemistry, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ

Head of the Department:
Prof. Dr. Gerrit Schüürmann

Antje Zschernitz-Önal

phone +49 341 235-1262
fax +49 341 235-451262

Permoserstraße 15
04318 Leipzig, Germany

The environmental behaviour of chemicals is determined by key parameters that depend on both the molecular structure of the compounds and properties of the environmental compartments.

The goal of the Department of Ecological Chemistry is to unravel systematic relationships between the molecular structure of compounds and their fate in the environment including biological systems, and to develop methods for predicting their environmental behaviour and risk.

The activities focus on the two major areas Environmental Chemodynamics and Molecular Toxicology, covering both experimental and theoretical work. The latter concerns in particular qualitative and quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) that are used to predict physicochemical properties and toxicological activities of chemical compounds through analysis of their molecular structures.

Department of Ecological Chemistry (March 3rd, 2014)

Department of Ecological Chemistry (March 3rd, 2014)

Environmental Chemodynamics

This area covers experimental and theoretical analyses of environmentally relevant properties of compounds that govern their partitioning between abiotic compartments, their bioaccumulation and their degradation processes (photolysis, hydrolysis, biodegradation). QSAR models for predicting partition coefficients and degradation rates include include increment methods, linear free energy relationships (LFER, LSER) and methods employing chemoinformatics and quantum chemistry. A further focus is on biomimetic instruments (passive samplers) for the time-integrated measurement and control of contaminants in the field.

Molecular Toxicology

Starting point of this working area is the consideration, that the primary molecular action of hazardous effects can often be traced back to simple chemical reactions. Structure-activity relationships are used to analyze the molecular disposition of chemical substances for certain effect mechanisms and effect levels. Toxicologically relevant molecular reactivities are characterized experimentally employing chemoassays, and theoretically through quantum chemical models and methods based on chemoinformatics. Here, QSAR approaches include quantitative methods and structural alert models for the identification of toxicologically crucial substructures of the chemical compounds, and for the prediction of endpoints from both ecotoxicology and human toxicology.

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Defences  of Doctoral Theses

Within week 51, three defences of doctoral theses resulting from research in our department will take place at the TU Freiberg:

Roman Gunold

Monday, 14 Dec 15
11.00 - 14.00
Lecture Hall
Ledebur-Bau, 1st floor
Leipziger Str. 34

Rebecca Hiltrop

Tuesday, 15 Dec 15
13.00 - 16.00
Small Lecture Hall Chemistry
Clemens-Winkler-Bau, 2nd floor
Leipziger Str. 29

Heiko Hammer

Thursday, 17 Dec 15
13.00 - 16.00
Big Lecture Hall Chemistry
Clemens-Winkler-Bau, 1st floor
Leipziger Str. 29

Newest Publications


Petersen et al. 2015. Development and field test of a mobile continuous flow system utilizing Chemcatcher ...
Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol.

Berggren et al. 2015. Chemical safety assessment using read-across ...
Environ. Health Persp.


Petersen et al. 2015. Laboratory calibration and field testing of the Chemcatcher-Metal ...
Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res.

Rotter et al. 2015. Pollution-induced community tolerance...
Environ. Sci. Technol.

Münze et al. 2015. Pesticide impact on aquatic invertebrates ...
Sci. Total Environ.

Yu H et al. 2015. In silico investigation of the thyroid hormone activity ...
Chem. Res. Toxicol.

Schubert et al. 2015. Radon, CO2 and CH4 as environmental tracers ...
Eur. Phys. J. Special Topics

Klüver et al. 2015. Fish Embryo Toxicity Test ...
Environ. Sci. Technol.

More information is available here:

Updated Software

ChemProp - new download link

Important: The ChemProp download has been moved to a new server.

The current version is 6.3 (released on August 6 2015).

Be aware, older versions until 6.1 are expired already!

The change log is located here:

The license agreements as well as a poster about ChemProp (state of May 2012) are available for download:

Contact and News Feeds

Any questions to the department regarding internships as well as bachelor, master, diploma or dissertation theses):

Scheduled public department events, new ChemProp versions and new publications will be announced via news feeds.




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