Nestor Etxebarria Loizate, PhD in Chemistry (UPV/EHU, 1993) and Full Professor in Analytical Chemistry (2011). He is member of the IBeA Research Group (www.ehu.eus/ibea), one of the high performance research groups according to the Basque Goverment (2013-2018), in which there are 14 staff researchers and more than 20 researchers (PhD students and posdocs). In addition to this, IBeA is one of the three research groups that take part in the Global Change & Heritage Research and Formation Unit of the UPV/EHU
Together with Olatz Zuloaga we coordinate a research project of the Spanish Ministry with the FI-TRACE group (Univ. Iles Baleares) and GCQ group (Univ. of Santiago de Compostela) which deals with the development of new methodologies to assess the impact of emerging contaminants in marine ecosystems and food consumption (CTM2014-56628-C3-1-R).
During the PhD period I have been working in solution chemistry and in the study of homogenous and heterogeneous equilibria. During the postdoc period (1994-96) I was at the JRC-IRMM (Geel, Be) implementing the Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis for the quality control of the production of Reference Materials. Later on I started the environmental analytical research specially focused on the analysis and distribution of microorganic contaminants in environmental compartments and more recently in the ecotoxicological issues raised as consequence of the presence to those contaminants. Recently, together with some colleagues of the PiE, we are involved in the EU Grace project dealing with the toxicological issues of oil spills in Artic environments. I have been also involved in applied research with basque SMEs in the recovery of bioactive compounds from agroindustrial wastes. Currently our group is involved in biomedical research (antitumor hyperthermia with magnetic nanoparticles and analysis of endocannabinoids in tissues and biofluids).
Between 2008 and 2011 I was the coordinator of the Chemistry Grade in our Faculty and since 2011 I am the Head of the Department of Analytical Chemistry. I am a member of the academic board of the Erasmus Mundus Master on Marine Environment.
Lecture 1 Tuesday 14 at 10.00:
Analysis of microorganic legacy and emerging pollutants in marine environments.
Estuaries and coastal areas are very sensitive ecosystems. These are the interface between the land/freshwaters/Ocean and they are dynamic systems in a wide timescale. In addition to this, the anthropogenic pressure on these sites is very high and therefore the effects on the ecosystems are too evident.
When we include the chemical pollution sources, we open a striking door to unknown places. First of all, chemical compounds are endless, or almost. If we focus only in synthesized or extracted materials we can assume around 100.000 different chemical compounds, and among them we have metallic compounds, organometallic ones, and organic compounds. However, we can distinguish at least groups of chemicals: the Known knowns, i.e.the ones we know they are in the media and they are already included in the monitoring programs and in the priority lists; the Unknown knowns, i.e. the large grey range of chemicals we already suspect that they are in the media at different levels or ranges but they are not monitorised or measured; and the Unknown unknowns, i.e. those always missed, or overlooked, and never thought they would be present.
In order to make some sense when we talk about organic contaminants we group or classify them according to different criteria. We usually identify them according to the chemical structure. In this way we may find PAHs, PCBs, PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers), etc. Sometimes we focus more on their use. In this way we identify pesticides (but among them we can find organochloro-pesticides), drugs or pharmaceutical products, antibiotics, etc, without any reference to their chemical structure. Finally, we are more interested on their toxicological effects and then we find endocrine disruptors (EDCs)
The spread of toxic chemical compounds became evident around mid sixties. Since then up to 2004 when the Stockholm Convention entered into force. But this convention only considers the POPs, the Persistent Organic Pollutants, i.e. only the compounds that are hardly degraded (which their half life are too long), and prone to long-range transport, which allows them to be found far away from their point source, and they are toxic.
In addition to those POPs we find in many media pharmaceutical and personal care products. Since these compounds are designed to be biologically active (called them antibiotic, anti-inflammatory or anxiolitic) there is a growing concern about the effects that might produce in the biota.
The analysis of many of those compounds still requires a huge effort in the sample treatment and in the resource requirements, especially the skills of the operators and the features of the analytical instrumentation. Currently we have two options to deal with these problems: the targeted approach to determine the compounds of interest, and the non-targeted approach to identify and quantify as many compounds as possible taking advance of the high throughput instrumentations available nowadays. During the lecture I will summarise the pros and cons of both approaches.