We address the complexity of pollution and work on developing a new concept for chemical analysis of mixtures of contaminants. We aim to change environmental monitoring by integrating chemistry, analytical sciences and mathematics in a new environmental –omics concept. To do this we (1) establish sets of analytical platforms and protocols that can provide complementary and exhaustive contaminant fingerprints; (2) develop new tools to handle and process complex data from cutting-edge analytical instrumentation; (3) develop new mathematical tools for extraction and visualisation of relevant information from these complex data sets; (4) apply this new concept for analysis of complex mixtures of contaminants to sets of laboratory and field samples. We work on linking these contaminant fingerprints to toxicological endpoints to allow for detection and identification of the main contributors to the toxicity of environmental samples.
Polar oil compounds and oil transformation products
Alkyl-substituted polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (alkylated PAHs) are organic pollutants ubiquitous in the soil environment. Elevated concentrations are found at sites where oil related products have been handled or spilled. In soils, alkylated PAHs are degraded by soil microorganisms to metabolites that possess physical and chemical properties different from their parent compounds; often the metabolites are much more water soluble. In marine sediments, filter and deposit feeders such as echinoderms, bivalves, oligochaetes, and polychaetes irrigates and bioturbates the sediment resulting in high oxygenation of the sediment. We aim to identify metabolites of alkylated PAHs produced by a common non-ligninolytic soil fungus, Cunninghamella elegans, soil and sediment bacteria, and macrofauna (polychaetes and earthworms) and to assess the fate (e.g., potential mobility) and effects of these metabolites.
The overall objective is to determine whether alkylated polar oil compounds (e.g., N, S and O containing polycyclic aromatic compounds) and PAH metabolites represents new and emerging contaminants.