12 years studying Persistent Organic Pollutants
9 September 2021
Since 2009, the researcher Dr. Silvia Lacorte, together with her group (Chemometrics) and with the collaboration of Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas, has been studying persistent organic pollutants found in this National Park in Galicia (Spain). The objective of the study was to evaluate the presence and impact of these compounds and to implement action measures for the conservation of protected natural areas.
Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas is a protected area of the Atlantic coast (formed by Cíes, Ons, and Sálvora islands) of high ecological value and scenic beauty. However, the human footprint (urban landfills, expansion of agricultural areas, maritime traffic, or chemical industry) has even reached this natural zone.
Persistent organic pollutants are chemical compounds that persist in the environment and can bioaccumulate and biomagnify through the food web. As they pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment, this group of pollutants is a priority with regards to monitoring, control and regulation. These substances were prohibited in the 1990s, being regulated by the Stockholm Convention, aiming to protect human health and identifying the most polluted zones to remove them from the environment
Seagulls have been a key factor in this research, as they are excellent bioindicators. By studying this bird and its diet, it has been easier to analyse the concentration and diversification of these pollutants. Lacorte’s group studies their eggs and analises the impact of persistent organic pollutants on the seagull population every year.
Although there is not current research project to study the presence and evolution of these pollutants in Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas, both Lacorte’s team and the National Park are still in contact and collaborate to evaluate the evolution and impact of these chemicals.