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Professor of Ecotoxicology of Delta and Coastal Waters, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Dick Vethaak works as a water quality specialist at the scientific Institute Deltares ( He is also an endowed professor of Ecotoxicology of Delta and Coastal Waters at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) of the VU University Amsterdam. His current research activities include:

ŸEmerging threats, such as micro- and nanoplastics, oil pollution, endocrine disruptors, and chemical mixtures;
Ecotoxicological indicators of water quality and ecosystem health;
Trophic transfer, bioaccumulation and effects of chemical contaminants in food webs;
Innovative technologies for pollution monitoring and control;
Integrated environmental assessment methods.

Vethaak is a member of the Science Committee (SCICOM) of the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES). He advices the Dutch government, the European Commission, and regional conventions such as OSPAR on issues relating to emerging contaminants, marine litter and oil pollution. He currently participates in various European and national projects on (marine) litter (FP7 CLEANSEA; project on riverine litter), nanoparticles (NanoNextNL) and microplastics (INTERREG IVA MICRO and TA-COAST IMPACT project on In-flow Multidimensional Particle Analysis/Characterization Technology). Further activities relating to micro- an nanoplastic pollution include participation in the MIME project (funded by the Research Council of Norway) and membership of the GESAMP Working Group 40 carrying out a global assessment of microplastics.

Vethaak currently supervises 5 PhD researchers and several MSc students. He is a member of the editorial boards for Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM) and Journal of Coastal Life Medicine (JCLM). He is (co-)editor of several books and published about 90 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and more than 300 reports, conference contributions and other articles. His citation H-index in Scopus is 31.

Expertise: Estuarine and coastal pollution, urban environmental pollution, emerging contaminants, oil pollution, plastic litter, micro- and nanoplastics, endocrine disrupters, stress ecology, ecosystem health, design of semi-field studies and bio-monitoring programmes, cumulative effects assessment, integrated monitoring and assessment approaches, studies to resolve cause-and-effect problems in aquatic organisms, wildlife toxicology, pathology, development and validation of biomarkers and bioassays, food chain transfer and effects.


  • –present
    Professor of Ecotoxicology of Delta and Coastal Waters , VU University Amsterdam