Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“We place mussels in the ports we wish to analyse in order to determine how much contamination is accumulated and what type.”

30.07.2008
The research Project led by Dr. Nestor Etxebarria of the University of the Basque Country is aimed at monitoring contamination of ports. Mussels are used to measure the levels of contaminants as they feed by filtering water and so accumulate any contaminant substances in their organs.

Studying living things can prove to be highly significant when evaluating contamination suffered by a specific environment. A research team from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), with Dr. Nestor Etxebarria as director, is involved in this monitoring of contaminants.

As Dr. Etxebarria explains, “it is known that ports are contaminated; what we are investigating is to what extent the contaminants therein reach aquatic organisms”. The project, Comprehensive evaluation of contamination in sediments at ports along the northern Spanish coast, using chemical, biochemical and ecotoxicological tools, is within the remit of the lines of research by the Analytical Research and Innovation (IBEA) research team led by Professor Juan Manuel Madariaga, and aided by doctors Alberto de Diego, Gorka Arana, Aresatz Usobiaga and Olatz Zuloaga.

Biomonitoring of metals and organic substances

Chemists at UPV/EHU, working together with a team of marine biologists from the University of Vigo and a similar team from AZTI-Tecnalia, have been analysing the harbours at this Galician city, as well as those in Bilbao and the port of Pasajes: their waters, the sediments and living creatures therein. They measure the concentration of contaminants and analyse the biological consequences that these cause in the aquatic organisms, using biomonitoring.

“We take mussels from clean waters and place them at points we wish to analyse in order to see how much and what kind of contamination is accumulated”, stated Dr Etxebarria. “The Galician biologists are in charge of studying the consequences of the contaminants on the mussels; we measure the concentration of the contaminants received by the mussels”, he added.

The object of the research is to answer questions such as: where is each kind of contamination located? What is the chemical origin of each? Of all the contaminants, the UPV/EHU team have only managed to analyse a few, amongst which is tributyltin (TBT) metal, used in the past for painting the hulls of vessels. “Today TBT is banned but it is highly durable and it can still be found in waters”, stated Dr Etxebarria. Organic substances have also been studied, such as polyaromatic carbohydrates (PAH) from ships fuel, the phtalates used in making plastics or the polychloride biphenyls (PCBs) derived from oils. “These last are similar to dioxines and in the past were used in very powerful transformers. They are also prohibited, but are still present in the water”, said Dr. Etxebarria.

Biological and chemical sampling

Each year Vigo, Bilbao and Pasajes are visited and simples are taken over two or three days. Five or six zones at each port are analysed, one of which is believed to be clean, i.e. as a control, and the other four or five contaminated. “We place 20 or 30 mussels mounted on plastic supports and inside gauzes, and submerge them at a depth of two metres”, explained Dr. Etxebarria, “after a certain period, we collect them for analysis of level and type of contamination accumulated”.

But using living beings to measure contamination also has its risks. “In some cases the contamination is high and the mussels can die”, states Dr Etxebarria. This is why the UPV/EHU team has created a new method for monitoring contaminants: “by using polymeric mountings, we simulate chemically what the mussels do, i.e. accumulate contaminants”. Moreover, in this way, it is possible to systemise the sampling.

Evaluation of the tools

The research led by Nestor Etxebarria is to finish in 2009, but they already have some provisional results. “The situation in the port of Bilbao is quite homogenous; we have taken samples in the areas of Getxo, Santurce and the exterior port (Bilbao, in the Basque Country) and the results are similar in each case. On the other hand, in Vigo (Galicia) we detected wide differences from one zone to another, for example between water near a shipyard and the open sea”, Dr Etxebarria said.

Apart from carrying out a diagnosis of port waters, another aim of the project is to evaluate the methodology and tools of the sampling. The European Directive on water obliges government bodies to monitor contaminants in all canals and along all coasts. “We wish to know if our methodology and the sampling tools that we have developed are useful for this purpose”, said Dr Etxebarria. “On the one hand, we have seen that zones supposedly clean are not as clean as we thought; it is necessary to redefine the selection of these clean zones. On the other, we are also perfecting the tool that chemically simulates the role of the mussels, in order to carry out even more precise sampling”, he concluded.

Garazi Andonegi | alfa
Further information:
http://elhuyar.com
http://www.basqueresearch.com/berria_irakurri.asp?Berri_Kod=1836&hizk=I

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>