Development and use of analytical methods to evaluate contamination in water bodies, soil, biota, human samples in exposed population
Analytical methods are developed to study environmental pollutants in water ecosystems, landfills, contaminated sites. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of organic pollutants are done by mass spectrometry (GC-MS, LC-MS, LC-MS/MS). Typical analyses include PCDD/F, PCB, PAH, polybrominated diphenylethers, pesticides, endocrine disruptor chemicals, and industrial pollutants.
Studies on environmental, toxicological and ecotoxicological properties of chemicals
Research is carried out on pollutant properties, exploring a broad range of toxicological and environmental properties in order to get safer chemicals. The use of computational models allows processing millions of chemicals. This involves searching literature data, comparing and evaluating different sources, and mainly developing predictive models to cope with the lack of experimental data. Thus, we develop models starting merely from the chemical structure. The research addresses the different kinds of chemical descriptors and chemical fragments, obtained with different software. Then, we develop models using algorithms such as neural network, fuzzy logic, genetic algorithms, classifiers, multivariate analysis, etc. Different methods are compared and integrated within a structured ensemble. Standardized methods for pesticides were developed and validated according to OECD guidelines. Innovative tools to evaluate the applicability domain of the models have been developed, to get predictions useful for regulatory purposes, such as REACH, biocide, pesticides, and other regulations.
Risk assessment of pollutants
Studies are aimed at assessing the risk of pollutants for human population and environment. For this we model transport and diffusion of pollutants, to obtain a predicted concentration on given space and time scales. Such an activity is integrated with those above described on chemical analyses and toxicity prediction, to achieve a continuous transfer of data and research.
Research on pollutants emitted in the atmosphere (Unit of Industrial and Environmental Hygiene)
Studies address different aspects of atmospheric pollution. Research deals with: sampling areas around the pollution source, chemical analyses, transport modeling depending on meteorological conditions and orography, risk assessment for population and environment. Qualitative and quantitative analyses are done by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry using high resolution for PCDDs/PCDFs, and negative ion-chemical ionization for PCBs.