EDGE-Project monitors plastic pollutants in the Danube river

Andreas Fath and Thorsten Hüffer jumping from a boat into the Danube river (for a test swim in August 2021)

German chemistry professor Andreas Fath swims the Danube, collecting water samples - and a team from our Division of Environmental Geosciences (EDGE) does the analysis. Researchers led by Thorsten Hüffer and Thilo Hofmann are scientific partners in the “cleandanube” project. The team analyses the water samples that Andreas Fath and his team are and will be collecting along the entire course of the Danube in search of environmentally harmful plastic additives: Their focus is on additives from tyre wear and softeners from PVC. In doing so, they are shining the spotlight on substances that so far are not included in most analyses - this applies primarily to the additives in car tyres. PhD students Charlotte Henkel and Ruoting Peng have developed an approach that enables the measurement of a total of 30 substances. Valerie Wilkeit is analysing the water samples as part of her Master's thesis.

The researchers will collect the samples at three stopovers on the swim tour - in Vienna, Budapest and at the Iron Gate, a breakthrough valley on the border of Serbia and Romania. The first batch of samples will be handed over to the team on Friday, 6 May, when the tour will stop in Vienna. The venue for the event on Friday is the Central Garden. A press conference will be held there in the morning. Workshops and a canoe competition are planned for the early afternoon.

Thilo Hofmann will talk about the research in the context of the “cleandanube” project and about research into plastic additives in general on Wednesday, May 4, in the TV show "Studio 2" on ORF II. In addition, he will be a live guest on Monday, May 9, at 1 pm in the broadcast “Punkt 1” (Ö1).

photo (c) Mario Kümmel