Integrated assessment of the fate and impacts of organic pollutants in the Mediterranean Sea (MEDPOP)

The Mediterranean Sea is under a strong anthropogenic pressure (e.g. industrial, urban, agriculture, intense maritime traffic, etc.) and some areas are highly impacted by persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and related chemicals. The overall objective of this research proposal is to perform an integrated assessment of the fate and impacts of selected legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and new organic contaminants of concern in Mediterranean coastal sites. In addition, it intends to generate data on POPs levels and their environmental behavior in areas from the Mediterranean Sea where little or no information exists such as the Mediterranean African coast, enabling contamination status assessments and comparison with Mediterranean European coasts. In order to achieve this objective a multidisciplinary approach combining, observation tools, laboratory work and modeling is proposed. The selected contaminants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and organophosphorus esters (OPEs) flame retardants and plasticizers are indicators of past and current anthropogenic activities at basin scale. In addition, they cover a wide range of physical-chemical properties and can be used as surrogates (i.e. model chemicals) of the environmental behavior of other semi-volatile and hydrophobic organic contaminants. The major scientific questions to be answered are: (1) what are the main drivers of the fate, transport and loading of organic contaminants in Mediterranean coastal sites at present? (2) what are the bioaccumulation and foodweb transfer (in first steps) of organic contaminants in representative Mediterranean trophic chains and the main potential impacts and environmental risks?