BIODIEN: Detection of endocrine disruptors in water to protect public health and the environment

Final results available here.


According to the definition adopted by the European Union, an endocrine disruptor (ED) is “an exogenous substance or mixture which alters the functions of the endocrine system, thereby inducing harmful effects on the health of an intact organism, its descendants or sub-populations”. These substances are a particular class of emerging pollutants considered to be of particular concern, and for which knowledge in terms of their presence in the environment and their effects on health and/or the environment is still relatively limited. This finding notably justifies the presence of EPs or families of EPs on the European list of priority substances for surface waters (Directive 2013/39/EU) and on the European watch list (Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/495).


The BIODIEN project aims to carry out an initial screening of the presence of PE in Walloon waters. In all, nearly 200 molecules are being tested, ranging from alkylphenols, phthalates, perfluorinated compounds and chlorophenols, to pesticides such as the neonicotinoids on the European watch list. These substances are tested in a representative selection of groundwater, surface water, runoff, wastewater treatment plant discharges and bottled water. The analytical methods used are necessarily multiple: LC/MS-MS or GC/MS-MS, coupled with liquid/liquid or solid-phase extraction or carried out by direct injection. Bioassays (YES-YAS) are used to determine the (anti-) estrogenic and (anti-) androgenic activities of the samples. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) are also used for certain molecules.


The project will involve the analysis of around 250 samples, a quarter of which will be groundwater. The network of measurement points has been designed to allow results to be interpreted in terms of the possible impact of these emerging pollutants on the environment and/or human health. As the number of measurement points is limited, an exhaustive inventory of the presence of these substances in the environment is not possible. With regard to pesticide testing, priority was given to points deemed to be at risk, with sampling concentrated during and just after the spraying periods (May to September).

Project duration and overall budget : 2 years – 398,000 EUR (SPW-DGO3 of which 273,000 EUR for ISSeP)

Project progress: 50%.