Evaluation of a biotest battery for the ecotoxicological characterisation of waste: ring test with 60 laboratories from 15 countries

In contrast to other standardisation projects the aim of this project was to standardise a test battery, not a single test, to be used for the hazard assessment of wastes. The ecotoxicological characterization of waste is part of its assessment as hazardous or non-hazardous according to the European Waste List (EWL). For this classification 15 hazard criteria are derived from the Council Directive 91/689/EEC on hazardous waste. Some of the hazard criteria are based on the content of dangerous substances. The criterion H14 “ecotoxic” lacks an assessment and testing strategy and no specific threshold values have been defined so far. Based on the recommendations of CEN guideline 14735 (2005), an international ring test was organised by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in order to define suitable test methods for the biological assessment of waste and waste eluates. The preparation, characterization and distribution of the waste substrates were done by the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM). ECT was responsible for the scientific co-ordination, including the preparation of standard operation procedures, the training workshop and the compilation of the final report. The statistical assessment was performed by the University of Applied Science Giessen-Friedberg, Germany. A total of 60 laboratories took part in the ring test. The participants were based in 15 countries: Austria (2), Belgium (5), Czech Republic (4), France (4), Germany (23), Ireland (1), Italy (5), The Netherlands (1), Norway (1), Portugal (4), Slovak Republic (1), Spain (4), Sweden (3), UK (1) and USA (1). They represented 16 universities, 16 public research institutions and 28 contract laboratories. A basic test battery, consisting of three aquatic and three terrestrial tests, was compiled. In addition, data were submitted for ten additional tests (five aquatic, including a genotoxicity test, and five terrestrial assays). The tests were performed with three representative waste types: an ash from an incineration plant, a soil containing high concentrations of organic contaminants (PAHs) and a preserved wood waste. The results of this ring test confirm that a combination of a battery of biological tests and chemical residual analysis is needed for an ecotoxicological characterization of wastes. With small modifications the basic test battery is considered to be well suitable for the hazard and risk assessment of wastes and waste eluates. All results and documents are accessible via a web based data bank application. Based on these experiences, a document entitled “Recommendations for the ecotoxicological characterisation of wastes” has been drafted in 2008.