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 Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

nachricht Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

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: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discovery: Common jellyfish is actually two species

22.11.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers discover specific tumor environment that triggers cells to metastasize

22.11.2017 | Life Sciences

A material with promising properties

22.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>