Environmental Toxicology


Established in 1988, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) Environmental Toxicology Department primarily conducts toxicity tests on wastewaters (or effluents) for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) in conjunction with the Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit program.

The state uses Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) testing to measure, predict and control the discharge of materials that may be harmful to indigenous aquatic life. Recognizing that no single test method or test organism can be expected to satisfy a comprehensive approach to environmental conservation and protection, the WDNR requires a battery of aquatic toxicity tests which are broadly accepted and measure different toxic effects using organisms representing different trophic levels and taxonomic groups.

WET testing provides a “real world” approach to effluent testing, since effluent is being tested in the form it was discharged on species that represent those found in the ambient environment. By using WET testing as a tool, the WDNR can track the aggregate effects of effluents on aquatic organisms.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources certifies the WSLH Environmental Toxicology Department. The laboratory follows U.S. EPA and Wisconsin methods manuals for all effluent and receiving water toxicity tests. Complete Quality Assurance and Quality Control Programs are maintained.


Contact Information


The WSLH Environmental Toxicology Department is primarily used by the WDNR but also provides service to other governmental agencies. The lab does no testing for discharge permits.

WSLH Environmental Toxicology Department

2601 Agriculture Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53718


Testing Information


Whole Effluent Toxicity Testing (WET)

  • Acute Bioassay
  • Algal Bioassay
  • Chronic Bioassay
  • Toxicity Identification Evaluation and Toxicity Reduction Evaluation (TIE/TRE)

Other Environmental Toxicology Analyses

  • Algae Identification
  • Cyanobacteria Toxins — WSLH Algal Toxins Information for Public Drinking Water Suppliers
  • Sediment Bioassay
  • Microtox
  • Estrogen Screen (E-Screen)
  • Yeast Assay (Transfected Estrogen & Androgen Receptors)
  • Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Assays: ROS Production in Alveolar Macrophage Model and DTT (Dithiothreitol) Assay
  • Gene Expression Analyses (Quantitative RT-PCR Methods for Vitellogenin Induction, Inflammatory Signaling and Others)
  • Creatinine Level (Analysis)

Research In Progress

  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Airport De-Icer Runoff
  • Aerosol Toxicity (air particulate matter toxicity)


Links of Interest