Environmental and Water Chemistry for Human Health (ONHEALTH)

The mission of ONHEALTH group is to enhance the understanding of the sources, occurrence, fate and behavior of pollutants of anthropogenic and biogenic origin and their impact on the environment and human health.
The major focus is on engineered systems, aquatic environments, terrestrial habitats, and the exposure to living organisms. To achieve these goals, we employ four main research lines:

1) Chemical and biological analysis to reliably detection and measurement at ultra-trace levels of contaminants in different matrices
2) Conduct controlled conditions experiments at our research facilities
3) Assess the impact of complex mixtures in environment and humans,
4) Assess the biota and human exposure through different routes (dietary, inhalation, dermal).

Our research on organic pollutants focuses mainly on four topics:

  • Sampling and Biochemical Analyses
  • Impact assessment studies
  • Assessment of processes, such as biomagnification or bioaccumulation
  • Experiments under controlled conditions

Sampling and chemical and biological analyses to reliably detect and measure at ultra-trace levels contaminants in different matrices, developing:

  • sophisticated analytical methodologies (target, suspect and non-target approaches)
  • methodologies for the analysis of polymers and plastic additives
  • bio and passive sampling
  • biosensors

Controlled condition experiments at our research facilities:

  • greenhouse for cultivation of crops and installation of nature-based solutions
  • marine micro/mesocosm emulating real conditions for accumulation studies and metabolomics studies
  • thermal mannequin heads with breading system for the assessment of the real impact of contaminants present in indoor/outdoor or in different materials through breathing

Impact assessment through studies of:

  • toxicological studies: standardized ecotoxicity tests, cell-lines toxicological studies with high-content analysis (HCA)
  • metabolomic studies based on high resolution mass spectrometry
  • impact of recycling processes and recycled materials
  • water reuse on agricultural crops

Assessment of different processes, such as:

  • bioaccumulation and biomagnification of pollutants along aquatic and terrestrial food chains
  • transformations in natural or engineered systems
  • human metabolism for exposure assessment
  • water-based epidemiology
  • human exposure through different routes: diet, inhalation and dermal contact

Our strategic plan is based on the development of frontier research and the training of new researchers together with an intense and effective fund raising through competitive calls and collaborations with public bodies and private companies.

ONHEALTH has an extensive network of collaborations:

  • At national level: ACA, Agència de Residus de Catalunya, Agència de Salud Pública de Catalunya, Banco de Leche-Banc de Sang i Teixits de Catalunya, ICMAN, ICRA, IEO, ISGlobal, UB, UAB, UV, URiV, Parque Nacional de Doñana, Parque Nacional Tablas de Daimiel, Bioinicia S.L., ARPE S.L.
  • At international level: University of New York (Buffalo, USA), CAPSENZE (Sweden), CONICET (Argentina), Universidad de Jijel (Algeria), CERTE (Tunisia), Florida International University (Miami, USA), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), UFZ (Germany), Université de Montpellier (France), INL (Portugal), RWTH (Germany), TUD (Germany), NIVA (Norway), IPMA (Portugal), among others.

Research Facilities

Instrumentation for chemical analysis

Sample collection, preparation and extraction:

  • Freezer/Mill
  • Quechers multi vortex
  • Thermo block for incubation of human assays
  • Evaporator SyncorePlus Analyst to perform a fast and gentle evaporation process with vacuum-vortex evaporation
  • Extraction and purification of liquid samples by off-line solid phase extraction techniques.
  • On-line extraction and purification:
    • Turbulent flow chromatography (TurboFlow, Thermo Fisher) coupled to LC-QqQ-MS
    • EQuan (Thermo Fisher Scientific) coupled to LC-QqQ-MS
  • Extraction of solid samples:
    • Pressurized liquid extraction – ASE 350 (Dionex)
    • ONE PSE (Applied Separations)

Analysis by means of liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS):

  • Target analyses: LC-QqQ-MS, TSQ Vantage (Thermo Fisher Scientific)
  • Suspect and non-target analyses: UHLPC-Orbitrap-MS, Q-Exactive (Thermo Electron)

Antropogenic particles (micro/nanoplastics and nanomaterials equipments)

  • Spectrophotometer (Jenway 6062)
  • Swift M10 Advanced Binocular Microscope
  • Nanotracking analysis
  • Pirolysis

Ecotox and biosensors lab

  • Microtox® system (Azur)
  • Spectrophotometer (Jenway 6062)
  • ToxAlert 100 (Merck)
  • Abratox Camera (Abraxis)
  • Incubators with lateral illumination (Aqualytic)
  • Cellular toxicity suit
  • High content analysis (HCA) facilities
    • Cell-lines suit access
    • Cell-Insight NxT reader (Thermo)
  • CellCense – Amperometric whole cell biosensor
  • Microliter Plate readers and washers

Controlled conditions experiment facilities

  • Greenhouse for cultivation of crops and installation of nature-based solutions
  • Marine microcosms and mesocosms
  • Thermal mannequin heads with breathing system


Permanent Researchers

Eljarrat Esebag, Ethel

IDAEA Director

934006123/68 - int: 437601/785

Farré Urgell, Marinella

934006173 - int: 437905

Llorca Casamayor, Marta

934006162 - int: 437900

Pérez Solsona, Sandra

934006187 - int: 437901

Postdoc Researchers

Montemurro, Nicola

Ramon y Cajal fellow (RYC2021-031725-I)


Osorio Torrens, Victoria

Ramon y Cajal fellow (RYC2021-034685-I)

934006162 - 437900

Santana Viera, Sergio

long-term stay as Catalina Ruiz research fellow



Alcalá Pavo, Paula

Funded by Severo Ochoa project


Borrell Díaz, Xavier

Funded by Severo Ochoa project



Communication and Outreach

Projects and Fundraising

No items found
Close Menu