Emerging Contaminants in Aquatic Food Webs

Location: Macleod, VIC

Duration: 5 months

Proposed start date: February 2019

Keywords: Emerging Contaminants, Aquatic Food Webs, Ecotoxicology, Chemistry, Soil Science, Aquatic Science, Literature Review

Project Background

EPA Victoria regulates emissions of pollution and waste to reduce and prevent harm to human health and the environment. Emerging contaminants (for example, pesticides, flame retardants, pharmaceuticals) are an important focus for EPA Victoria as we seek to understand current and future environmental pollution.

EPA Victoria collects data on the concentration of known and emerging contaminants in biota such as fish. Currently our ability to assess these results against standards is limited to human health food consumption standards. We are seeking to review scientific literature to identify what potential there is to link the concentration of known and emerging contaminants in biota, to risk levels for ecosystem protection. The avenues of research could include international risk assessment frameworks, screening levels and new approaches to correlate body burdens with environmental endpoints.

We are seeking a candidate with a background in at least one of chemistry, ecotoxicology, soil science or aquatic sciences and demonstrated experience in reviewing literature and data analysis. The successful intern will work on this project in collaboration with EPA scientists.

Research to be Conducted

The key research questions to be addressed by this research project are:

  • Undertake a literature review on global emerging contaminants testing in biota. What is the current state of knowledge on emerging contaminants biota testing globally (techniques, risk assessment, relationship to ecotoxicity testing) and how does this apply to Victoria and its waters?
  • What sampling and analytical techniques are available to quantify and characterise emerging contaminants in biota? What are the capabilities and limitations of different measurement techniques and current challenges?
  • What do EPA Victoria’s data collected to date tell us about the risk from emerging contaminants in biota? What changes to our monitoring program are needed to make it world leading?

Skills Required

We are looking for a PhD student who has the following skills:

  • Proficient in critically evaluating scientific literature and translating technical information into plain language
  • Proficient in the analysis and management of scientific data
  • Demonstrated ability in delivery of collaborative projects with clear and targeted outcomes
  • Experience in field and laboratory work would be advantageous but not essential
  • Experience in toxicology or environmental chemistry would be advantageous but not essential

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcomes from the project are:

  • A literature review on the state of knowledge of global biota emerging contaminants testing and assessment
  • Support the analysis of emerging contaminants data and development of a report and journal paper on Victorian work to date
  • Support the development of an options paper for future testing

Additional Details

The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner.  The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

Applications Close

23 January 2018


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