The term Marine Pollutants includes chemicals such as heavy metals, flame retardants, oils and plasticisers, introduced to the marine environment through man-made (anthropogenic) activities. Many of these chemicals are classed as persistent, bio-accumulative and/or toxic.
Chemical contaminants, from natural sources or human activities, are present in water and sediment and so can accumulate in the marine food chain. We monitor levels of contaminants in fishery products to ensure that Irish seafood remains safe for consumption.
Working closely with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority SFPA, our Residues team monitors farmed fish for certain veterinary drug residues that may be used in treating farmed fish. We are test for unauthorised and prohibited substances and contaminants, to ensure compliance with the EU Residues Directive for live animals and animal products (Directive 96/23/EC).
Nutrients are essential for the primary productivity of our seas but excessive inputs from human activities can upset the balance within the local environment.
Increasing drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide into the oceans instigates chemical reactions that reduce the pH of seawater – a process referred to as Ocean Acidification (OA). OA is expected to impact on marine organisms, particularly at sensitive early life stages, by reducing the availability of calcium carbonate required for shell building organisms.
We have an active research team with varied projects focused on marine chemistry issues that reflect topical policy concerns. We collaborate with many Irish and international universities and institutes and frequently host MSc, PhD and post doctoral projects. Our recent and on-going marine chemistry research areas include:
- The biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and inorganic carbon in Irish waters, in particular the acidification of surface and deep waters due to uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide and the potential impact on marine habitats and ecosystem services.
- The occurrence, fate and biological effects of chemical pollutants, including emerging pollutants, on marine ecosystems and the services they provide.
- Novel marine monitoring techniques, in particular the use of passive sampling as a tool to assess water quality and potential applications to regulatory and operational monitoring programmes.
- Chemical substances in seafood and the potential risks to consumers.
- New analytical methodologies for chemical analysis of pollutants and residues.
- Improving maritime coastal pollution preparedness and response in Atlantic regions.
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