Boîte de Petri

Reference activities of the Nancy Laboratory for Hydrology

The laboratory holds national reference mandates in the areas of water intended for human consumption (EDCH), natural mineral waters and recreational waters on the one hand, and the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in the areas of wastewater and sludge from sewage treatment plants on the other hand.

Reference laboratory for drinking water, natural mineral water and recreational water

The biological and chemical contaminants covered by the reference activities of the Nancy Laboratory for Hydrology include all regulated parameters and emerging non-regulated parameters. In this context, the laboratory has the following missions:

  • providing scientific and technical support to the French Directorate General for Health and its decentralised departments in the event of a health crisis;
  • acquiring knowledge on the prevalence of emerging substances in the water resources used to produce drinking water as well as in tap water, bottled water and recreational water. These data are acquired as part of national prevalence campaigns;
  • running two national networks of specialist laboratories: the network of approved laboratories for water quality monitoring and the network of Biotox laboratories (national biological threat response network). Among other things, this mission involves the organisation of technical sessions, technical conferences and inter-laboratory tests;
  • conducting confirmation analyses and dispelling doubts concerning the results of approved laboratories for water quality monitoring;
  • helping produce guidelines and health standards related to water and revise regulatory texts, and contributing to work on standards in the area of drinking water;
  • participating in European expert groups;
  • processing requests to import bottled natural mineral water.

View the analysis framework for water quality monitoring (in French)

View the method for analysing haloacetic acids in water (in French)

View the method for analysing hexavalent chromium in water (in French)

Reference laboratory for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater and sewage sludge

In 2021, the Laboratory for Hydrology was given new responsibilities as the reference laboratory for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19) in wastewater and sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants. This monitoring serves to indirectly track the spread of the virus and its variants in the population. This NRL’s missions are to: 

  • harmonise the methods used for monitoring the virus, from sampling through to data analysis and standardisation;
  • qssist the laboratories responsible for the analyses and assess their ability to implement the detection systems through inter-laboratory proficiency tests;
  • contribute to developing the surveillance plans drawn up by Santé publique France. 

This national monitoring of the virus will be supported by the SUM'EAU network (microbiological surveillance of wastewater), which involves the Directorate General for Health, the Directorate for Water and Biodiversity, Santé publique France and ANSES.


This Laboratory has been accredited by the French Accreditation Committee (COFRAC) in accordance with the NF EN ISO/CEI 17025 Standard under the number 1-2255 (Tests).

The scope of accreditation for each unit is explained on the COFRAC website (in French).

Laboratory approvals for water quality monitoring

Since 1 March 2021, ANSES has been in charge of issuing, amending and withdrawing laboratory approvals for water quality monitoring. The Laboratory for Hydrology therefore reviews all applications for approvals and then issues a technical opinion.

Cyanobacteria in bathing water

The Laboratory for Hydrology is involved in efforts to harmonise analytical methods, in particular through the coordination of work on standards for the detection of cyanobacteria in bathing water. In 2020, it assumed leadership of a standardisation group to produce a standard based on methods that had previously been submitted for consultation and disseminated by the laboratory. The related standardisation work is ongoing.

Technical platform for identification by MALDI-TOF

The Water Microbiology Unit created a new analytical platform in order to share a microbiological identification technique, using a matrix assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometer, with ANSES's other laboratories. This technology is used to characterise bacteria isolated from water samples. In addition to the work undertaken in the unit, the staff are involved in various projects using this technology, within the Agency and at national or international level.

The platform is involved in the work of the MALDI-TOF technical group within the animal health commission of AFNOR (the French Standardisation Association). It oversees this work, whose objective is to introduce a standard on the use of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry in laboratories.