Ecotoxicology is the study of toxic effects caused by natural or man-made substances on living organisms.
Last updated:

Through ecotoxicology we are able to determine the levels and types of contaminants that cause harm to animals and plants. This can be done for individuals, populations and communities of organisms exposed to contaminants in the environment (e.g. through stormwater or wastewater discharge).

Ecotoxicology provides insight into ecosystem health that cannot be determined from the measurement of chemicals in the environment alone. 

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation uses ecotoxicology to determine the potential impact of a contaminant, or mixture of contaminants, in sediments and water on organisms such as fish, invertebrates and algae living within a waterway. This allows us to predict the effects of contaminants known to exist in a waterway so that measures to prevent or remediate any detrimental effect can be applied. Through ecotoxicology we can also determine which specific contaminants from a complex mixture may be responsible for an observed environmental impact.

Understanding the potential toxicity of contaminated sediments and surface water both within and entering our rivers and estuaries helps us to assess river and estuarine health. Ecotoxicology may also be useful in determining the cause of mass fish kills.

Ecotoxicological techniques have been applied in the Swan and Canning estuaries and the Peel Harvey.

Ecotoxicology can also be used in determining the suitability of wastewater and stormwater for recycling.