TransRisk – Pollutants as a risk to the water cycle

Scientists in the TransRisk project are studying how to characterise, communicate and minimise the risks that ensue due to new pollutants and pathogens in the water cycle.

Scientific approach

The TransRisk project team is developing a risk management system to deal with new, anthropogenic pollutants and pathogens in the water cycle. These can include pesticides, tensides, drugs, hormones or cosmetic additives. ISOE is employing an empirical social science approach to study how the population perceives and handles these risks.

Risk characterisation

In a first step, the project team will be recording toxicologically relevant groups of pollutants and their effects. They will use these data to develop a risk characterisation concept. The project team will also be characterising those kinds of pollutants that are only found in minute concentrations, because even very small concentrations of pollutants can lead to resistant strains of pathogens.

Risk minimisation

In order to minimise future risks, the researchers are not only assessing which measures might already be helpful at the source of pollution. They are also studying different methods of municipal sewage treatment and are comparing mainstream procedures with innovative methods. In addition, they are testing the risk characterisation concept that has been developed beforehand in the Donauried water cycle.

Risk communication

ISOE is using empirical social research methods to study how people in the Donauried area of Bavaria in Germany perceive risks, with a particular focus on the role that different lifestyles play. Based on lifestyle-specific risk perception patterns, the scientists will be identifying different target groups and potential multipliers for risk communication, using it in turn to develop a target group-specific communication concept. The goal of risk communication is to raise awareness for the issue and support changes in behaviour.

Project partners

  • Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde, Koblenz (Koordination)
  • Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
  • Technische Universität Dresden
  • Technische Universität Darmstadt
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Technische Universität Berlin
  • Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie (KIT)

Practice partners

  • Landeswasserversorgung Langenau in der Donau-Ried-Region, Baden-Württemberg
  • ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH, Flörsheim
  • Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum für Informationstechnik Berlin
  • ITT Water & Wastewater Herford AG
  • Stulz-Planaqua GmbH, Bremen
  • Deutsche Vereinigung für Wasserwirtschaft, Abwasser und Abfall e.V. (DWA)


German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)


Götz, Konrad/Audrey Courtier/Melina Stein/Linda Strelau/Georg Sunderer/Rodrigo Vidaurre/Martina Winker/Benoit Roig (2019): Risk Perception of Pharmaceutical Residues in the Aquatic Environment and Precautionary Measures. In: Roig, Benoit/Karine Weiss/Véronique Thireau (Ed.): Management of Emerging Public Health Issues and Risks. Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Changing Environment. London: Academic Press, 189-224

Götz, Konrad/Georg Sunderer/Barbara Birzle-Harder (2015): Schlussbericht des ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung: Projekt TransRisk. Medieninhaltsanalyse. Repräsentativuntersuchung zu Medikamentenrückständen im Wasser. Zielgruppenmodell.Frankfurt am Main

Sunderer, Georg/Konrad Götz/Karoline Storch (2014): Medieninhaltsanalyse zu anthropogenen Spurenstoffen im Wasser. Ergebnisse aus dem Projekt TransRisk. Unter Mitarbeit von Stefanie Hagenkamp. ISOE-Studientexte, 21. Frankfurt am Main: ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung


2011/11 – 2015/04