Persistent mobile organic chemicals in the aquatic environment: Sources, occurrence and technical processes for their removal in the drinking water supply (PROTECT)

Water is an essential resource of our planet. However, the discharge of man-made, persistent and mobile organic chemicals (PM substances) into the environment threats the quality of water and thus not only the aquatic environment, but also human health.

BMBF Persistent and mobile substances are particularly difficult to remove in partially closed water cycles where they can reach drinking water. However, existing monitoring methods do not fully cover this class of substances. Hence, only very limited knowledge is available on the extent to which PM-substances do indeed reach from waste water to raw or even drinking water. While PM-substances therefore pose a risk to the drinking water supply on the one hand, knowledge about their fate in the entire water cycle is very limited on the other.
Based on the results of the previous research project PROMOTE a consortium of six partners will apply novel analytical methods that are dedicated to very polar, mobile compounds to screen for PM-substances in all compartments of the water cycle and to monitor the efficacy of natural and technical barriers (wastewater treatment, subsurface passage, drinking water treatment) in removing PM-substances. PM-substances are most critical, if they are also toxic (PMT-substances). Therefore, prominent PM-substances will be evaluated for their toxicity and ecotoxicity. Simultaneously, technologies for the removal of PM-substances from raw water used for drinking water production will be studied in full-scale for their removal of PM-substances and innovative procedures like membrane separation will be developed in lab scale. The consideration of the whole water cycle and the combination with improved removal technologies will eventually allow recommending a set of mitigation measures to reduce the risk that PM-substances pose to water resources. Highest priority will be given to PMT-substances.

PM substances in the water cycle
Abb. 1 Seven working packages (WPs) of PROTECT arranged along a partially closed water cycle.

The consortium will achieve its goals through seven working packages which are arranged along a partially closed water cycle (Fig. 1)

Cooperation Partners

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

Department Analytik  
Prof. Dr. Thorsten Reemtsma
Dr. Matthias Muschket
Dr. Urs Berger
Hochschule Fresenius

Institute For Analytical Research (IFAR)
Prof. Dr. Thomas Knepper
Dr. Daniel Zahn

Fachgebiet II 3.1, Nationale und internationale Weiterentwicklung der Trinkwasserhygiene; Trinkwasserressourcen
Dr. Aki Sebastian Ruhl

Fachgebiet II 3.6, Toxikologie des Trink- und Badebeckenwassers
Jochen Kuckelkorn
SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions
SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions

Uli Dölchow
Kommunale Wasserwerke Leipzig GmbH
Heiko Schulze
Grit Schnitzer

Associated Partners

Hessenwasser GmbH & Co KG
Stadtverwaltung Weißenburg

Bereich Zentrallabor
Technische Universität Berlin

Fachgebiet Wasserreinhaltung
Prof. emeritus Dr. Martin Jekel
Weissenburg in Bayern

SG 44 - Stadtentwässerung
Klärwerk Mannheim
Kläranlagen Mannheim
Andreas Hein

Duration of the project: 01/02/2019 - 31/01/2022

This project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is part of RiSKWa in the framework programme of FONA .

Contact partner:  

Dr. Matthias Muschket
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Department Analytik
Permoserstraße 15 in 04318 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 235 1413


  • Workshop on PMT-substances: 21 - 22 January 2020. Fore more information follow Link