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ContEm : Emerging Contaminants

par Eric Eusebe - publié le , mis à jour le

Team leader : Elena GOMEZ

team members

some publications


Emerging organic contaminants, aquatic environment, environmental metabolomics, exposure assessment, wastewater reuse, risk assessment, solid-solution interface, organisms-solution interface, bioavailability of organic contaminants

Research Summary

Emerging organic contaminants include a large number of substances with various physicochemical characteristics. Understanding the behaviour of these substances in aquatic environments, particularly those with biological activity (drug residues, endocrine disruptors, etc.), requires approaches currently being developed in the laboratory at fine mechanical scales.

The team’s activities are structured around the following scientific orientations :

  • Understanding the bioavailability of emerging organic contaminants and their effects, considering interaction processes in complex environments,
  • Characterizing the mechanisms of transformation of these contaminants during treatment processes and in the environment and identifying those that lead to a change in biological activity,
  • Surveying emerging molecules : occurrence, transfer, interactions, exposure patterns and effects,
  • Acquiring knowledge on the metabolome in our species of interest to describe, understand and predict exposure and effects of toxic substances through a metabolomic approach
    The approach by family is preferred, taking into account transformation products and metabolites of targeted substances for a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of the exposure of organisms. In order to relate exposure measurement to individual and population effects, targeted and non-targeted analytical approaches using separative methods hyphenated to mass spectrometry are developed. They allow us to benefit from the sensitivity and specificity required to work on complex matrices. The metabolomic approach allows us to study the exposure and effects of contaminants on aquatic organisms by determining both xenometabolome (parent compounds and biotransformation products) and endometabolome (indirect markers within endogenous metabolites of which concentrations may differ from physiological levels following chemical exposure).
    The use of treated wastewater for the irrigation of agricultural fields also merits the team’s attention. Reuse poses the problem of introducing organic contaminants, like pharmaceuticals, occurring in the wastewater into the terrestrial environment. Besides their accumulation and leaching into the subsoil, potentially harmful contaminants can be taken up by agricultural crops and further biotransformed by the plant’s metabolic enzymes. The current research topic aims to further clarify the processes taking place after the irrigation of fields with wastewater with regard to the degradation of wastewater-borne contaminants and their ecotoxicological impact. The fate and effects on crops of an array of pharmaceuticals is evaluated in controlled and real scale experiments : (i) assessing the microbial degradation of pharmaceuticals in the rhizosphere, (ii) examining uptake and metabolism of targeted contaminants in plants, (iii) estimating their impact on nitrogen cycling in the soil and in plant development (iv) estimating the efficiency of innovative decentralized solar-based wastewater treatment systems for the removal of the most harmful contaminants.

current projects

  • ANR AWARE : Evaluer le devenir des pesticides et des contaminants des eaux usées en cultures agricoles et leurs risques environnementaux. (2017-2020). Responsable scientifique : Serge Chiron
  • ANR IMAP : Investigation du potentiel de l’approche métabolomique pour mettre en évidence des marqueurs d’exposition et d’effet aux produits pharmaceutiques chez les organismes aquatiques (2016-2021) Responsable scientifique : Frédérique Courant.
  • Projet SUDOE (Sud-Ouest Européen) : KETs pour l’élimination des contaminants émergents dans les eaux recyclées de l’espace SUDOE. Acronyme : 4KET4Reuse. (2016-2019). Responsable scientifique : Serge Chiron.
  • Programme UNESCO-sida : Contaminants of emerging concerns in Oued Souhil area, Nabeul, Tunisia : Occurrence in irrigation water and implications (2015-2018).
  • ANR ANSES : Faisabilité de l’approche métabolomique pour la mise en évidence de marqueurs d’exposition aux contaminants émergents. (24 mois 2016-2017). Responsable scientifique : Elena Gomez
  • Projet AERMC Plateforme expérimentale de réutilisation d’eaux usées traitées en irrigation. (2017-2020) Responsable scientifique Serge Chiron.