Toxic Waterworld.

The map shows the rise of the southern North Sea level with neighbouring countries and the possible eluviation of toxins by different industrial sectors.

About the Project

Toxic Waterworld is a speculative design project based on the worst-case scenario of the scientific projection of a maximum sea level rise of 50 metres. The project focuses not only on the flooding of settlement areas, but also on the consequences of a possible suspension and eluviation of toxic substances left by industries in current times. How could and should humans get used to such an environment? The aim of the project is to visualize possible long-term consequences of production and industry using the example of contaminated soil, an issue that is overlooked since many decades.

Individual Project, 2019

Social Design (MA)

Design Academy Eindhoven

The map above is the result of mappings from geographical data on industrial sites and EU datasets of already registered and pre-classified contaminated sites. A method for the evaluation of data was developed using data sets from the State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology of Lower Saxony on contaminated sites in areas up to 50 km around the coasts. A percentage load was calculated in categories by industry and projected onto the area of the Southern North Sea.

The result of the research project is an equipment consisting of a protective suit in combination with stilts and a water filtering system to potentially survive in an environment like Toxic Waterworld. A video illustrates the process of "water harvesting" depending on pollution, tides, weather and location.

The equipment is manufactured using the most likely materials and methods available. The suit consists of many layers of old plastic films from the packaging industry to withstand the effects of heavy metals, acids and alkalis dissolved in water. The water filter is the result of research on filter systems using natural materials. The water is filtered from particles and heavy metals using different rock sizes, charcoal and nano sponges before being sterilised in a solar evaporator system.

In 2018, 2.8 million sites of local contamination were estimated for the 28 EU countries based on statistics. In contrast to the US Superfund system, the EU has neither a common approach nor precise guidelines for dealing with contaminated sites. All sites where toxic substances were produced, processed, distributed or disposed of would have to be investigated. In many places, depending on the industry and the point of legislation, this applies retroactively, even over a period of a hundred years. In Europe, an average of 2.6 sites per square kilometre is expected. The majority of all known contaminated sites have only been registered as critical cases and classified in advance. In most European countries, action is only taken if heavily contaminated soil poses a risk to groundwater. Or if erosion and flooding can or have triggered a dangerous distribution of contaminated soil.

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Jan-Micha Gamer