Chemical research at UBA

A woman in the apron of the chemistry works in the laboratory. You are filled with liquid glass vesselsClick to enlarge
One of UBA’s many laboratories for chemical research
Source: Umweltbundesamt

The UBA carries out research in its own laboratories on the effects of plant protection products, biocides, pharmaceutical drugs or industrial chemicals on the environment. Its research answers questions such as: How do these substances impact individual organisms in ecosystems? How are they distributed in soil, water and air? Is their effectiveness sufficient to control articulata and rodents?

Chemical research at UBA

The Chemical Safety Division tests chemicals and compounds in its own laboratories, making use of the results to carry out evaluations. About 25 per cent of its staff work in three specialist laboratories in Berlin's Dahlem and Marienfelde districts. The research they do provides answers to questions concerning, for example, the environmental behaviour of chemicals in the environment. The laboratory test results are also used for the environmental review that is enshrined in chemicals laws. These duties are closely linked to those which the UBA carries out in the enforcement of chemicals laws (REACH, Plant Protection Act, Pharmaceuticals Act, Biocidal Products Directive, Infection Protection Act). Experimental research is done for example to support the further development of policies, test guidelines and testing methods if they no longer correspond to the current state of knowledge. Research is also done to support the environmental assessment of individual substances.
Chemical research provides support to environmental policy and thus distinguishes itself from university and non-university research. Read more about the priority topics of chemical research at the UBA in the UBA’s Research Programme (pp. 43- 47).

Vector Control Testing Facility

UBA operates state of the art facilities for testing of insecticides and rodenticides. This enables to evaluate efficacy and effectiveness of products and devices for the control of invertebrates and rodents as stipulated in§ 18 Infection Protection Act (IfSG). In addition, pharmaceutical drugs against ectoparasites (e.g. lice) for the use on human skin are tested. Test animals such cockroaches, bed bugs, mosquitoes, flies, lice, mice and rats are reared at the laboratory. The facility is certified according to DIN ISO 17025.

Ecotoxicology testing laboratory

The UBA's ecotoxicology laboratory tests substances and mixtures for their toxic effect on aquatic organisms. It draws up, standardises and continuously develops appropriate testing methods for the assessment of the ecotoxicological effect of chemicals. These testing methods (e.g. fish embryo test, sediment-free myriophyllum test) serve to enforce chemicals laws and are provided to the OECD. The laboratory also carries out ecotoxicological experiments, for example in the assessment of the interactive effects of multiple chemicals.

Trace analysis and artificial stream and pond system simulation

The UBA operates an artificial stream and pond system at its Marienfelde test plant. The large facility allows investigation of the degradation, distribution and impact of chemical and biological substances in rivers and lakes, thus allowing research under near-natural conditions in the environment. Organic trace analysis makes it possible to detect substances (e.g. plant protection products, biocides, industrial chemicals) which are present in the environment in very low concentrations or which are used in laboratory or technical tests.

External research

In addition to doing its own experiments, the Chemical Safety Division also commissions projects to research institutions or higher education institutions, often within the framework of the Environmental Research Plan (UFOPLAN). UBA’s staff evaluates the results and apply them for the assessment of chemicals and to establish risk management measures.