Chemical Contaminants in Water: Significance, Monitoring and Interpretation

IWES, University of Queensland, WaterAid Water Quality Monitoring

Target Audience

This course is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of people responsible for commissioning, interpreting and responding to chemical water quality monitoring data. It will be relevant for people working in catchment management, drinking water quality, wastewater characterisation, recreational water quality, environmental water quality and risk assessment.


This course has been designed to provide the practical skills necessary to commission, manage, interpret and respond to chemical water quality monitoring data.

The issues of chemical contaminants in water have rapidly escalated in importance and profile throughout the last decade. Chemicals including pesticides, dioxins, hormones, pharmaceuticals, cyanobacterial toxins and disinfection by-products have been associated with diverse environmental and public health concerns in drinking water, wastewater and environmental waters. Accordingly, it is increasingly important for water quality practitioners to possess the knowledge and skills to enable them to identify key issues associated with chemical contaminants, design monitoring programs, collect valid samples, select suitable laboratories for analysis and interpret chemical analytical data.

Learning Objectives

DAY 1: Understanding the issues

What types of environmental and human health risks do trace chemicals pose ?
What evidence is there for these risks ?
How are ‘safe’ concentrations and exposure levels determined ?
Australian water quality guidelines and safe levels of exposure
Analytical methods for extraction and detection – knowing what to request
Learn to speak the language of an analytical chemist!

DAY 2: Fundamentals of advanced chemical analysis and site tour

Basic principles of advanced analytical methods (including chromatography and mass spectrometry)
Fundamentals of GC-MS, HPLC-MS, ICP-MS and GC-MS/MS
Site tour to an analytical laboratory (half-day)

DAY 3: Practical skills for chemical water quality monitoring

Sampling technique to ensure meaningful representative sample collection
Statistical requirements and minimum sample numbers
Sample preservation techniques
Selecting and assessing laboratories to undertake your analysis
Understanding laboratory techniques to ensuring accurate quantitation and quality control
Interpreting chemical monitoring data
Statistical analysis and reporting
Responding to media questions and issues