Research in the Spotlight

To celebrate Science Day 2017 on Sunday, 26th November, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) demonstrated the variety of marine research at the Marine Station Ostend (MSO). During this year’s Science Day, our colleague Emmanuel introduced his research to the general public. Emmanuel investigates whether exposure to biogenic compounds in sea sprays has an influence on human health. 

We are happy to announce that Sam Baelus, who performed her master dissertation at our Lab, has won the ArcelorMittal Indaver Thesis Award “Environmental Science and Technology”. This award was given for the 23rd time to outstanding Master students who wrote a thesis on an environmental topic. Sam, Master of Bio-science engineering in Environmental technology, wrote her thesis on the “Characterization of phycotoxins in sea spray aerosols". Here a new method was proposed to measure background concentration of algal toxins and other biogenic chemicals in the sea air. These compounds are considered, within the biogenics hypothesis, as the health promoting substances in sea air. We wish her all the best in her future career. Congratulations Sam!

This week, 10 GhEnToxLab members will be presenting their research at the 27th SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Brussels, Belgium from 07-11 May 2017. There we will highlight our research in a total of 5 platforms, 5 posters and 1 poster corner. To keep track of us during the conference, a comprehensive list of our activities is provided below. Not only do we present a lot of our work, many GhEnToxLab members are part of the local organising committee and professor De Schamphelaere is the chair of the scientific committee of the conference.

Fleece clothing made its way to our wardrobe in the 90s. Since then wearing fleece has been appreciated to be easy, warm and comfortable. Fleece is however made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the same material as plastic bottles. Despite its green image, since plastic bottles are sometimes recycled to fleece clothing, wearing fleece is not that eco-friendly as you would expect. The Standard and Knack interviewed Prof. Janssen to explain the issue of microplastic pollution originating from fleece clothing and its ecological consequences.

The British television and radio platform Sky has made a documentary – A plastic tide – on plastic pollution in the oceans. Our laboratory has a great expertise in microplastic pollution in the marine environment and performed the first comprehensive risk assessment on these tiny plastic fragments. In this picture, journalists of SkyNews visited our lab and talked to Prof. Janssen and Niels De Troyer to get the full story concerning the human exposure and effects of microplastics in seafood. In addition, the newspaper the Telegraph wrote an article about (micro)plastic pollution and refers to the conversation skynews had with Prof. Janssen.

Next week, 8 GhEnToxLab members will be presenting their research at the 26th SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Nantes, France from 22-26 May 2016. There we will highlight our research in a total of 3 platforms and 8 posters. To keep track of us during the conference, a comprehensive list of our activities is provided.

Our research on microplastic pollution has over the past years attracted considerable media attention. Recently there has been increased interest in this issue from politicians who urge the Flemish/Belgian governments to develop action plans to prevent plastic pollution in our seas and waterways. A few days ago, the mayors of the Belgium coastal towns started up a campaign to address beach pollution. The research which attracted media attention this time was the low efficiency (to retain microplastics) of waste water treatment plants in Flanders and the contribution of the river Scheldt to the marine microplastic pollution issue.

Reporters of various national radio and TV stations and for the newspaper the Standaard (link) visited our lab and talked to Prof. Janssen to get the full story of recent research findings.

Many congratulations to Dr. Gert Everaert of GhEnToxLab who is awarded the prize for the SETAC Europe Best Paper in the category of Chemical Analysis and Environmental Monitoring for his paper: "Multidecadal Field Data Support Intimate Links between Phytoplankton Dynamics and PCB Concentrations in Marine Sediments and Biota”. In this publication, Gert and his co-authors performed meta-analyses on existing monitoring data and found evidence that the biological pump plays a key role in the partitioning of PCBs between different marine compartments in the North Sea. One of the main strengths of the research is the uniquely large spatiotemporal scale on which the conclusions are based. The award ceremony will be held at the opening ceremony of the SETAC Europe Conference in Nantes on May 22nd 2016.

Our latest microplastic research was included in the Science for Environment Policy news alert published by the European Commission’s DG Environment. This news alert summarises scientific studies carefully selected for quality and European policy relevance. Our research selected for publication in the news alert was the recently published paper on microplastics in two key marine species: mussels and lugworms.

Next week, 10 GhEnToxLab members will be presenting their research at the 25th SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Barcelona, Spain from 3-7 May 2015. There we will highlight our research in a total of four platforms, one poster corner and 8 posters. To keep track of us during the conference, a comprehensive list of our activities is provided below.

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