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Delphine Vandeputte

PhD student, Doctoral Fellows



MSc Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2021

BSc Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2019

Project Title

Assessment of Inorganic Contaminants in Diverse Environment


A way to limit the use of drinking water in agriculture during heatwaves and dry summers is reuse treated wastewater. However, this can currently not be applied due to a lack of knowledge concerning the possibility of the presence of different contaminants which might deteriorate the groundwater quality. This is investigated by the GROW project, which is a collaboration between different departments of VUB, the Flemish Government, the Soil Service of Belgium and Aquafin. The research is situated at an agricultural field next to the WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Kinrooi (North-Eastern Belgium) and the small brook, Abeek, in which the WWTP discharges.

The purpose of this Ph.D. is to continue the research which was previously executed on inorganic contaminants in surface water, groundwater and soil. Trace metals (Cd, Pb, V, Cr, Co, Ni, Cu and As) in surface and groundwater are analyzed in order to obtain their background concentration using the classical methodology (based on filtration). In addition, Diffusive Gradients in Thin films (DGT), is used to assess the labile trace metal concentration, and hereby provide and estimation of bioavailability. Furthermore, DGT is applied in combination with the DGT-Induced Fluxes in Soils (DIFS) model in agricultural soil to detect which species are bioavailable to plants and assess the performance of DGT in simulating plant uptake of labile trace metal species. Additionally, a research goal is to find a tracer to determine when contaminants, present in effluent water, reach the groundwater wells when the infiltration starts. The chloride to bromide mass or molecular ratio (Cl/Br) is a suitable tracer and is determined via Ion Chromatography.


Trace Metals, DGT, Aquatic Environment, ICP-MS, Ion Chromatography

Field site

Kinrooi (North-Eastern Belgium)


Prof. Dr. Yue Gao


Room 7G431
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels