Nowadays, the quality of the environment and its effects on citizens’ welfare is one of the world’s major issues of the uttermost importance. Environmental Science is a multidisciplinary field that integrates physical, chemical and biological sciences to study the natural environment. It focuses on how the environment may affect human life and proposes solutions to current environmental predicaments.
The major topics of investigation of the Environmental Chemistry group include, but are not limited to, mineral and organic pollutants and xenobiotics in water, soil, sediment, air, organisms and food, and their
impact on environmental quality, human health, and food safety; their origin, fate, biodegradation and transport in the environment; modelling of environmental chemical processes; environmental toxicology, microbiology, chemistry, engineering and hazard/risk assessment; environmental technologies, control and remediation of soil; monitoring and treatment of water and wastewater, municipal and industrial solid wastes, as well as toxic and hazardous substances.
In addition, the field of Environmental Science relies heavily on analytical chemistry. Therefore, it also encompasses the development of screening methods and/or the improvement of the existing confirmatory methods for the analysis of the above mentioned contaminants based on the principles of Green Chemistry, and environmental and economic sustainability. These methods have to meet current or
proposed legislative requirements and are mainly based on chromatography, spectrophotometry and biosensor tools.
Monitoring of contaminants in environmental samples
Biomonitoring: sources and exposure assessment
Sustainable and safe water treatments
Green technologies for soil remediation
Valorization of agro-food and industrial wastes
Electrochemical (bio)sensing tools
Sustainability studies and life cycle thinking
- Presence of pharmaceuticals in the Lis river (PT)
The occurrence of 33 pharmaceuticals and metabolites was evaluated along the Lis river and in the influents and effluents of two wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) located along the river. Ibuprofen, ketoprofen, carbamazepine and fluoxetine, and the metabolite salicylic acid are widespread along the Lis river, showing 100% of detection frequency, at levels up to 1.3 μg L-1 . The highest concentrations were often found downstream near the river mouth.
- Assessment of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in preschool children
The exposure of Portuguese preschool children to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was assessed by environmental monitoring of eighteen compounds in air and biomonitoring of six urinary biomarkers of exposure (OH-PAHs). Total (including probable/possible) carcinogenic PAHs represented 26-45% of PAHs. Significant correlations were found between airborne PAHs and urinary OH-PAHs.
- NanoClean - Remediation of soils contaminated with pharmaceutical products using “green” zero valent iron nanoparticles
Green zero valent iron nanoparticles (gn-ZVI) were synthesized using extracts from tree leaves with high antioxidant capacity as a substitute of the “toxic” sodium borohydrate. These gn-ZVI were applied to the degradation of pharmaceuticals (such as ibuprofen and amoxicillin), acting as a reductant (as zero valent iron), or as a catalyst (in the Fenton reaction), and presented several advantages: lower synthesis cost, lower toxicity and capping effect that the extract matrix provides to the nanoparticles.
- GMOsensor: Monitoring genetically modified organisms in food and feed by innovative biosensor approaches
The GMOsensor project established an international network (EU and South America) focusing on the development of novel, innovative, cheap and integrated bioanalytical devices (mainly DNA- and protein-based) for the detection of GMO in food and feed. Three types of GMO sensing platforms were designed to be used in a stepwise approach: i) element specific (such as the promoter and terminator elements and the encoded protein); ii) gene-specific; and iii) event-specific.